In the endurance group (n=22), on the average, the more vigorous twin had 23.6 years of exercising twice a week, and averaged 3.9 times a week. The less-vigorous brother had 9.2 years of exercising at least twice a week, and averaged only 1.1 times a week.

In the power sports group (n=12) the more active twin had 2,300 hours of lifting over a 13.8 years, while the less active had only 200 hours over 1.1 year.

Both groups were interviewed about any back symptoms, and MRI scans were made of the lower thoracic and lumbar spine. Experts scored images of each of the 12 joints of the spine for amount of degeneration, and scores were compared between the less- and more-active twins.

The bottom line, in general, was that no significant differences in spinal disk degeneration were found between the less-active and the more-active in endurance activities. And, the researchers saw less degeneration throughout the thoracic and lumbar spine of the weightlifters than they had expected. The power sports seemed to be responsible for some greater degeneration in the lower thoracic region but not in the lumbar (low back) region.

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