Health Notes: Desire to exercise motivates; yoga, stretching lessen back pain

In SNEWS® Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look at recent health research that might be pertinent to your business. In this report, SNEWS takes a look at two studies, one which concludes women who exercise for pleasure do it more often, and another that finds yoga and stretching alleviate lower back pain.

You want information about health, physical activity, exercise and wellness, but you don’t want all the techno-science garble that makes most reports overwhelming to read, let alone understand or pass on to customers. In SNEWS® Health Notes, an occasional series, we take a look at recent research that is pertinent to your business and explain it in a way that makes sense. If you have suggestions or comments, let us know by emailing

>> Women more likely to exercise if it makes them feel good about themselves

Women who exercised to feel good now did it more often than those who exercised to prevent future diseases, according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

According to the study, women thought both quality of life now and preventing health problems in the future were equally important, however women who wanted to improve their quality of life now exercised more often. 

Authors suggested that re-branding exercise as a way to feel better rather than marketing it from a medical or weight loss perspective can increase people’s desire to exercise. Branding it from a medical or weight loss perspective makes people feel obligated to do it.

“Promoting exercise primarily within health care and society as a method to ‘improve health’ or to ‘be thinner’ might inherently foster a feeling of compliance instead of autonomy toward exercising because cultural expectations and pressures undergird these specific goals,” authors write.

So what? Nobody likes feeling obligated to do something. When exercise is an obligation, people are less likely to do it. But if people start to see exercise as something that helps them feel good about themselves, they’re more likely to do it.

For the scientifically minded: Find the free abstract here, and the free article here

>>Yoga or stretching both effective in easing lower back pain

Chronic lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people call in sick to work, seek over-the-counter pain relievers for and spend tons of money trying to alleviate, studies have shown, but simple yoga and stretching could be the ticket to alleviating lower back pain.

Though the researchers who ran the study, published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine, said they did not have enough information to compare the effectiveness of all different methods of treating lower back pain, they did determine engaging in several weekly yoga or stretching classes helped.

The participants, who took several yoga or stretching classes, reduced the amount of medication taken for their pain and rated their pain as better or completely gone after the study.

“Our results suggest that both yoga and stretching can be good, safe options for people who are willing to try physical activity to relieve their moderate low back pain,” said the study’s lead researcher Dr. Karen J. Sherman in a statement. 

So what? If lower back pain is a problem, yoga or stretching could help -- even more than taking over-the-counter drugs or just staying home from work to try to rest.

For the scientifically minded: Find a free extract (no abstract available) here, and the article for a fee here.