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High-intensity workouts may help ease arthritis

A 40-minute workout regimen on a bike improved study participants' health condition and did not adversely affect their arthritis.

By Stephen Feller
High-intensity workouts may help ease arthritis
Spinning for 35 minutes twice a week was shown to benefit women with arthritis in a small study. Photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

TRONDHEIM, Norway, July 29 (UPI) -- "Hard" physical training twice a week can help arthritis patients experience less pain and inflammation, as well as a small drop in BMI, according to a new study.

Arthritis is a chronic illness causing inflammation of the joints that over time leads to weakness and loss of movement.

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Doctors have long recommended that people at risk for arthritis stay physically fit and active, and many studies show that high-intensity workouts can increase endurance, however no studies had been done on the effect of such workouts with arthritis patients.

"Previously, studies have showed that moderate intensity work-out sessions can help improve endurance without inducing pain or inflammation, or damaging joints," said Anja Bye, a researcher at the K. G. Jebsen Centre for Exercise in Medicine at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in a press release. "This is why it is especially important for arthritis patients to keep fit and work on their cardiovascular endurance."

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Researchers enrolled 18 women between the ages of 20 and 49 for twice-weekly workouts on a spinning bike. The women warmed up for 10 minutes at about 70 percent of their maximum pulse before doing 4 repetitions of four-minute high-intensity intervals at 85 to 95 percent of maximum pulse. The break between each 4-minute interval was 3 minutes, with the participants returning to 70 percent of max pulse during that time.

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The women in the study showed a 12.2 percent increase in their body's oxygen uptake and a 2.9 percent improvement in heart rate recovery, as well as a 1.2 percent drop in BMI, 1 percent decrease in body fat and 1.6 percent decrease in waist circumference. There also was no detected or reported increase in arthritis activity or pain.

"Rather, we saw a tendency for there to be less inflammation, at least as measured by the inflammation marker CRP, and the participants of the study experienced a solid increase maximum oxygen intake, meaning that they reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease," Bye said. "The women who participated in the study found this to be a good, effective method of training, and are mostly very motivated to continue because of the progress they've seen."

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The study is published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. .

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