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Pain Relief From Exercise? Quick walks can make the difference: photos



Emma Dene, who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., is a debilitating knee pain that starts around the age of 40 and is eventually diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Back then, climbing the stairs was very painful, she said, and the exercises seemed unmistakable.

Iman Quinn for NPR


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Eamon Queeney for NPR

Emma Dene, who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., is a debilitating knee pain starting around the age of 40 and eventually diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Going up the stairs was very painful then, she says, and the exercises seemed impossible.

Iman Quinn for NPR

For people living with chronic pain, getting up, getting out, and moving can seem daunting. Some fear that physical activity will aggravate their pain. But in fact, researchers find the opposite: The right type of exercise can help reduce pain.

Today Emma Dene agrees. Dene is 44 years old, lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and works as a business officer in the office of Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of North Carolina. She says her commitment to exercise is relatively recent.

Just a year and a half ago, Dane was almost avoiding any physical movement he was not supposed to do. Just going up the stairs was painful – "sometimes when I had to stick to the pond to help myself," she says, "and I couldn't even get my legs straight." At times, the ligaments in her knees were "torn".