Prevention: How exercise and staying active can keep your back healthy longer


The importance of exercise and an active lifestyle are hard to overstate. I’m sure we’ve all heard or read about the ‘obesity epidemic’ in America; the negative effects of  working at a desk all day; how unhealthy constantly sitting can be for us, from TV watching to commuting; and the impact stress can have our health. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming, but simply getting out each day for a little exercise can greatly decrease the negative impact of our modern lifestyle.

Exercise and activity pumps blood through the body more easily, breaking down fat cells and distributing oxygen and other important nutrients to muscles and organs. Exercise also keeps joints limber and lubricated, muscles toned and strong and ligaments and tendons elastic. Fundamentally, movement is what we were evolved to do, and our bodies function better in every way when we are active.

Exercise and an active lifestyle also have an important positive impact on the health of our back. It keeps the muscles of the back toned and strong, increasing the body’s ability to lift correctly instead of twisting or jamming the back. A strong core not only helps to insure us against lifting injuries, but also reduces the chance of injury or pain from sitting at a computer all day for work, or from repetitive strain injuries. Weak muscles cannot support the spinal column properly, and also contribute to bad posture or disc compression from the increased load on the spine.

Aerobic exercise is just as important as weight bearing, core-focused exercises, and stretching. Aerobic exercise strengthens the cardio-pulmonary system and oxygenates the bloodstream, helping move blood through the body more efficiently and removing waste.

Exercise also helps keep the body at a healthy weight, ensuring that the load on the spinal column is minimal and undue pressure is not put on the discs, causing herniation, compression, and uncomfortable pressure on vertebrae.

Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle make muscles inflexible and joints less lubricated, which can contribute to strains, tears, and arthritic changes as we age. Think of exercise like a deposit in a bank. When you’re consistently putting money into a savings account, when a rainy day comes you are better prepared to weather the circumstances. When you are exercising and stretching regularly, you are saving up against that time when your back does go out (and it will)- If you have been putting in the time to strengthen your back, it shouldn’t be as bad as it would have been if you hadn’t been investing the time and energy to exercise.