High Energy Exercise May Improve Cardiovascular Health in Patients with Arthritis

Although many patients with arthritis have a difficult time engaging in high-intensity exercises, that may be the very thing they need to reduce their risk for cardiovascular complications associated with the disease.

Although many patients with arthritis have a difficult time engaging in high-intensity exercises, that may be the very thing they need to reduce their risk for cardiovascular complications associated with the disease.

Previous studies revealed that high-intensity workouts help improve endurance more than moderate sessions, and without causing more pain, inflammation, or joint damage. Because increased cardiovascular risks are linked to arthritis, Anja Bye and colleagues from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) examined the outcomes of high-intensity exercises in a select group of patients.

“We wanted to see if patients with arthritis could handle high intensity training and see the same positive effects,” Bye, a senior researcher in the Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging at NTNU, said in a news release.

The analysis included seven females with rheumatoid arthritis and 11 with juvenile idiopathic arthritis from ages 20 to 50. The 18 women performed high intensity interval training (HIIT) on spinning bikes twice per week for 10 weeks. Data on blood pressure, maximal oxygen uptake, heart rate recovery, body composition, and blood variables were gathered before and after the study period. That information, along with questionnaires, allowed the researchers to determine cardiovascular risks following the exercise regimen.

According to the findings published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, maximal oxygen uptake increased by 12.2% and heart rate recovery improved by 2.9%. In addition, a decrease in BMI (1.2%), body fat (1%), and waist circumference (0.6%) was observed. Muscle mass, on the other hand, increased by 0.6%. The team noted that pain and other activity associated with arthritis remained unchanged.

“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 confirmed.

Even though the study’s population pool was minimal, the findings suggest a need to explore the idea more that high intensity exercise can improve heart health. Bye explained that the participants voiced that the exercise was effective and experienced progress.

“This is why it is especially important for arthritis patients to keep fit and work on their cardiovascular endurance,” Bye concluded.