Hey, readers! You’ve heard “walking it off” before when it comes to pain, right? But not always in the greatest context–after all, ignoring pain and hoping it will go away never works and could make matters worse!

But, to my surprise and maybe yours, it turns out walking can have a positive effect on chronic pain.

Researchers have found that people who have chronic pain disorders, despite the natural concerns they may have about doing physical activity, experience a reduction in pain with the right types of exercises. It’s also been discovered that pain medication’s effects on a person’s pain vary widely depending on the underlying reason for the pain and the condition causing it, meaning that exercise can possibly provide more relief than pain medications for some people.

One research analysis that involved a review of 46 studies that used exercise to help people with fibromyalgia found that across most of the studies, the vast majority of participants experienced relief from pain using physical activity, as reported in the Journal of Health and Quality of Life Outcomes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1590013/).

In another study, this one conducted by Duquesne University, researchers aimed to determine whether there was a relationship between the degree of pain relief and the exercise dose (https://dsc.duq.edu/biology-data/1/). In this study, researchers used a treadmill walking test with 40 healthy women participants who were divided into four groups. One group–the control–did not exercise, while the other groups exercised either three, five or ten times each week. The resulting data showed that those who exercised the most–five and ten times per week, respectively–had the greatest reduction in pain rating at 60 percent.

Researchers in another review published in the Best Practice & Research: Clinical Rheumatology journal found that there is a wide range of exercises that can reduce pain in people who are suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4534717/). The effects researchers found from exercise, including just walking, were close to what the participants experienced from simple pain medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In this review, the researchers recommended that patients suffering from chronic pain should have exercise prescribed since activity avoidance can result in loss of strength.

If you suffer from pain, whether it’s long term or short term, it is very possible that the right exercise plan could help. Not only does exercise have the potential to ease pain, but it’s also a known mood booster and provides other health benefits, such as boosting the immune system. They key is finding the right plan for your condition or problem, so don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about it.