Walking more than 90minutes/week was associated with a lower risk of self-reported low back pain in persons over 50years of age: a cross-sectional study using the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys

Spine J. 2019 May;19(5):846-852. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2018.11.007. Epub 2018 Nov 15.


Background context: Physical activity, such as muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise, has been found to be effective for low back pain (LBP). However, the association between weekly walking duration and LBP in the general population remains poorly understood.

Object: This study aimed (1) to analyze the association between walking and LBP and (2) to examine this association according to walking duration and overall walking days per week in a general population over 50years of age using a representative sample of Korean adults.

Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Patient sample: Data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys V and VI, performed from 2010 to 2015.

Outcome measures: Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the association between walking days and duration and LBP. Analysis was restricted to participants aged over 50years who responded to surveys on LBP and walking activity.

Methods: National health and nutrition examination surveys were performed in the Korean general population (N=48,482) from 2010 to 2015. LBP status was surveyed using a self-reported questionnaire form ("Have you complained of LBP for more than 30days during the past 3 months?"). Daily walking activity (low-intensity activity) was evaluated using the following two questions: (1) "During the last 7days, on how many days did you walk for at least 10 minutes at a time? This includes at work and at home, walking to travel from place to place, and any other walking that you have done solely for recreation, sport, exercise, or leisure." (2) "How much time did you usually spend walking on each of those days?" Walking duration per day was classified into two categories: over 30min/day and over 1h/day. Overall walking days per week were categorized into <3, 3-4, and ≥5days/week. Basic characteristics, comorbidities, socioeconomic status, and other variables were used to create multiple logistic regression models. No sources of funding and no conflicts of interest were associated with this study.

Results: Walking for more than 3days per week for over 30 minutes at a time was negatively associated with LBP in the unadjusted (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 0.65, p<.001) and fully adjusted logistic regression models (aOR: 0.79, p<.001). Similarly, walking for more than 5days per week for over 1 hour at a time was negatively associated with LBP in the unadjusted (aOR: 0.62, p<.001) and fully adjusted logistic regression models (aOR: 0.76, p<.001). The risk of LBP decreased with increasing walking days and duration.

Conclusions: Our study showed that longer walking duration was associated with a lower risk of LBP using a cross-sectional health survey in the Korean general population. Regular walking with a longer duration for more than 3days/week is significantly associated with a lower risk of LBP in the general population aged over 50years.

Keywords: General population; KNHANES; Low back pain; Physical activity; Risk factors; Walking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Republic of Korea
  • Self Report
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*