Physical and Mental Fitness Help Prevent Back Pain, from the March 2014 Harvard Men's Health Watch

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Preventing occasional back pain from becoming a chronic problem requires both physical and mental fitness. It is important to stay physically active, strengthen the muscles supporting the back, and maintain flexibility.

A man's spine can take a beating over the years. The occasional backache can blossom into chronic and potentially disabling low-back pain. But it doesn't have to be that way. Paying attention to the body and the mind can keep the back healthy, according to the March 2014 Harvard Men's Health Watch.

"Cardiovascular and strength training are good basic prevention to keep your back healthy," says Harvard back pain expert Dr. Zacharia Isaac. "Because of the brain's involvement with back pain, maintaining a good sleep cycle and good emotional state are also very important."

Important steps to better back health include:

  •     When backaches strike, stay as active as possible; inactivity can make things worse.
  •     Shrinking from physical activity for fear of back injury can start a downward spiral leading to more backaches.
  •     Get enough sleep; lack of restorative slumber can make back pain worse.
  •     Stay positive and relax; people who are depressed and anxious have more back problems.

Read the full-length article: "Physical and mental fitness are essential for maintaining back health"

Also in the March 2014 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch:

  •     Do memory supplements work?
  •     Maintaining maximum muscle over the years
  •     New benefits of Mediterranean-style eating

The Harvard Men's Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).


Media: Contact Kristen Rapoza at hhpmedia(at)hms(dot)harvard(dot)edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.

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Kristen Rapoza
Harvard Health Publications
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