The Checkup: Regular Exercise Makes You Less of a Wimp

It's true: Athletes cope with pain better than the rest of us.

• If there was a Defining Olympic Moment of My Childhood, it was watching gymnast Kerri Strug (immortalized in this Visa ad) take a second run at the vault with a badly injured ankle. Watching the landing still makes me wince, even 16 years later. Now I’ll take retroactive comfort in the fact that Strug was probably wired to deal with pain better than wimpy ol’ me. (I would have passed out on the sidelines after vault #1, for the record.) A new study found that athletes have a higher pain tolerance than us regular folks. The study, which appeared in the journal Pain (where else?), was really an analysis of several previous studies that involved adult men and women, including 568 athletes and 331 normally active control participants. It also looked at a range of athletes in different sports, from endurance to game to strength sports, reports the Atlantic. They found that athletes—particularly those involved in game sports—had a higher pain tolerance than the controls. But their pain threshold (that is, the amount of stimulus required before being perceived as pain) didn’t vary much between athletes and controls—meaning that athletes feel pain at the same levels as we do, they just cope with it better. Case in point: Kerri Strug and her now infamous vault.

• “You’re never fully dressed without a smile …” Those orphan kids in Annie were on to something: A new study found that the more optimistic and extroverted you are, the longer you live. MSNBC has more.

Aspirin: protection against skin cancer? A new study is promising.