Is pain a natural part of aging? Perhaps because some studies show that up to 85% of adults over 60 experience regular pain that disrupts their daily lives, you might think so. However, there is no inevitable physiological process that is guaranteed to cause pain in older people.

Studies show chronic pain conditions decrease with age, and your ability to perceive pain may diminish with time. If pain isn't inevitable, what separates older adults who suffer from chronic pain from those who don't?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic pain is pain that lasts over three months and harms your quality of life. Untreated chronic pain can lead to falls, injuries, a loss of independence, depression and anxiety.

Because many older people believe that pain is natural, they may not seek treatment and may suffer unnecessarily.

Some studies show that older adults are more likely to take a stoic approach and try to "tough it out." This natural tendency, combined with the fear of becoming addicted to opioid pain medication, means many older people are suffering silently.

Yet the risk of older adults becoming addicted to opioids is low — only 3%, according to a study published in the Pain Medicine journal. So, while there certainly are some medications that older people should avoid, traditional medical treatments, including surgery and pain medication, are safe and effective ways to treat some causes of chronic pain.

If you've already explored all your medical options or you want to supplement them, exercise shows tremendous promise for managing your pain. While surgery and pain medications can improve your health and longevity, regular physical activity is the most potent and least invasive pain reliever available. Melissa Koehl, a physical therapist with 22 years of experience who now specializes in helping patients with connective tissue disorders treat chronic pain, discussed her top pain management tips for older adults.

"I have worked with a lot of older adults who would greatly benefit from lifting [weights] but are afraid to start. It takes some work to get them on board," said Koehl.

Regular exercise, such as cardio or strength training, can reduce chronic pain symptoms in two ways. First, it releases chemicals called beta-endorphins, which act as natural opioids in the body. These endorphins not only produce that happy post-exercise haze, but they treat pain directly by acting like morphine on affected pain receptors.

Regular exercise is an excellent way to manage chronic pain and reduce other associated symptoms such as low mood and energy. Strength training, in particular, releases the most endorphins and is crucial for people over 60.

"I can't think of a single situation where I would not encourage my patient to participate in strength training," said Koehl. Another side effect of regular exercise is increasing your pain tolerance.

Strength training has even more benefits for older adults in the long term as it helps fight off bone and muscle loss and strengthens tendons.

Here are her tips for treating chronic pain with exercise for adults over 60.

Get medically evaluated first. Exercise will not treat underlying disease or physical abnormalities, so you must understand the source of your pain to get cleared for physical activity.

Consult a physical therapist. They are the movement experts who can help you on the path to rehabilitation.

Work with a fitness professional. Vet your trainer and make sure they are certified with a reputable training body such as the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Go slow. Your progress with exercise largely depends on your exercise history and current fitness level.

Movement is play, so have fun. When you have chronic pain, getting up and moving may seem like the last thing you want to do. Remember that all exercise releases endorphins, which will reduce your pain and give you more energy, so keep trying different types of movement until you find one you love.