I've had low back pain off and on for years. My doctor wants me to do exercises to strengthen my back. Does it matter what type I do?

Research suggests that the form of exercise you choose is not as vital as simply being active. In a recent study, patients with low back pain did one of three types of exercise therapy. The first group had one-on-one physical therapy. The second group had treatment in pairs using special strengthening devices. The third group went to aerobics and stretching classes with an emphasis on trunk and leg muscles.

All of these treatment programs resulted in better physical performance. After three months of treatment, patients showed improved test results for back strength and endurance. Patients who did exercises using special devices tended to have more strength than the other groups, possibly because the testing equipment was similar to what they had used during treatment.

You'll probably get the most benefit from an exercise program you enjoy. Ask your doctor for suggestions.