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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6 Suppl):S551-86; discussion 609-10.

Dose-response of physical activity and low back pain, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis.

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UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland.



The purpose of this study was to examine the evidence for causal relationships between physical activity (PA) and low back pain (LBP), osteoarthritis (OA), and osteoporosis (OP), and for dose-response relations involved.


Computer database searches and personal retrieval systems were used to locate relevant literature.


PA can be effective in preventing LBP (Category A) but prolonged, heavy loading can lead to LBP (Category C). Specific exercises have not been found effective in treatment of acute LBP (Category A), but PA can be effective in chronic LBP (Category B), especially for diminishing the effects of deconditioning. No evidence indicates that PA directly prevents OA. Large amounts of intensive PA involving high impacts or torsional loadings or causing injuries increases risk of OA (Category C). Light or moderate PA does not increase the risk of OA (Category C). PA can be effective in the treatment and rehabilitation of OA (Category B). High-intensity loading is osteogenic and possibly useful in prevention of OP (Category A) at the loaded site, but low to moderate loading is not osteogenic (Category D). Static efforts and slow movements are ineffective or less effective than fast application of force (Category B). The types of PA to attain the effects mentioned above are known except in the case of prevention of LBP, but dose-response relationships are poorly known; at best, semiquantitatively on the basis of just a few studies.


Given the shown primary and/or secondary preventative effectiveness of PA regarding LBP, OA, and OP, research to elucidate the inadequately known dose-response relations should be given high priority.

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