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www.ProHealth.com • June 18, 2004


It's hard to want to exercise when you're already in pain. In fact, it's probably the very last thing you want to do. But regular exercise is a versatile weapon that can be used to combat your pain in a variety of ways. Exercise prompts your body to release special chemicals, called endorphins, that actually block pain signals from reaching your brain. These chemicals also help alleviate anxiety and depression, conditions that can make your pain more difficult to control. "Endorphins are the body's natural pain-relieving chemicals that in many cases are more powerful than morphine," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Specific types of exercises can be used to strengthen the muscles around sore joints. For example, building up your leg muscles with strength training can provide a natural brace for an arthritic knee. "The more you can enhance the structural support of the joint with stronger muscles, the more force and load you can take off bones and cartilage," says Dr. Laskowski. "This can contribute to pain reduction." Regular exercise also improves your sleep and gives you more energy to cope with your pain. It can help you lose weight, which will reduce the stress on your joints. (Source: Mayo Clinic, online at www.mayoclinic.com.)



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