Maintaining Moderate or Vigorous Exercise Reduces the Risk of Low Back Pain at 4 Years of Follow-Up: Evidence From the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

  • Takaaki Ikeda
    Address reprint requests to Takaaki Ikeda, PhD, Yamagata University, Department of Health Policy Science, Graduate School of Medical Science, 2-2-2 Iidanishi, Yamagata, 990-8560 Japan
    Department of Health Policy Science, Graduate School of Medical Science, Yamagata University, Yamagata, Japan

    Department of International and Community Oral Health, Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry, Sendai, Japan
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  • Upul Cooray
    Department of International and Community Oral Health, Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry, Sendai, Japan
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  • Masayasu Murakami
    Department of Health Policy Science, Graduate School of Medical Science, Yamagata University, Yamagata, Japan
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  • Ken Osaka
    Department of International and Community Oral Health, Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry, Sendai, Japan
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Published:September 25, 2021DOI:


      • Maintaining moderate/vigorous physical activity reduced the risk of low back pain
      • Moderate/vigorous activity engaged only at baseline was not beneficial
      • Encouraging moderate activity might be useful due to the lower dropout rate


      Few studies have examined whether maintaining moderate or vigorous physical activity (PA) reduces the risk of low back pain in older people. This study aimed to examine the magnitude of the associations of changes in PA on the risk of low back pain at 4 years of follow-up. We analyzed 4,882 participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing who were initially free from low back pain (mean age, 65.6 ± 8.9 years at baseline). Self-reported PA, which was assessed at wave 6 (2012–2013) and wave 7 (2014–2015), was used as the exposure. The PA of the respondents was categorized into “no PA at all,” “up to moderate PA,” and “up to vigorous PA” groups. Self-reported moderate/severe low back pain assessed at 4 years of follow-up (2016–2017) was used as the outcome. Maintaining moderate (relative risk [RR], 0.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.36–0.99) or vigorous (RR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.27–0.77) PA at least 1–3 times a month was negatively associated with prevalence of low back pain compared with no PA at all. Interventions for maintaining either moderate or vigorous PA might be beneficial in preventing the incidence of low back pain in the older population.


      This study examined the magnitude of the association between changes in physical activity over time and the risk of low back pain. The findings suggest that encouraging people to maintain at least moderate physical activity over 2 years is useful for reducing the risk of low back pain at 4 years of follow-up.

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