Low Back Pain Impacts on Fitness

It’s a generally accepted theory that people who have chronic low back pain are less physically fit than people who don’t have low back pain.

There are several reasons for this theory. In some people, for instance, the pain may be too great to exercise; other people may be afraid that strenuous activity might lead to an injury, causing even further pain.

A recent study has found that while people with chronic low back pain are indeed less physically fit than people who are pain free.

In this study, 108 people with chronic low back pain completed a series of questionnaires and performed a modified cycling test to measure heart rate and oxygen consumption. Results of the tests were then compared to a group of healthy people who were similar in age and activity levels.

Only 84 patients with low back pain were able to complete the cycling test; 86 percent who did complete the test had lower aerobic fitness levels compared to the healthy group. While the authors of the study believed their research provided evidence of a link between low back pain and reduced fitness levels.


If you have recurrent Low Back Pain you are LESS likely to exercise. So you must really focus on your fitness to ensure your chance at a full recovery. In many respects it is even more important that you perform fitness routines that are suitable for your rehabilitation.

If you suffer from low back pain, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become less physically fit. Talk to Dr. Hooper or the team about creating an exercise program that will keep you in shape without injuring your back or causing any undue pain.

Smeets RJEM, Wittink H, Hidding A, et al. Do patients with chronic low back pain have a lower level of aerobic fitness than healthy controls? Spine 2006;31(1):90-97.