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  • Colleen Broersma and Jessica Cline

Spinning Proves To Be A Valuable Tool For Battling Arthritis

Historically high intensity exercise has been a no-no for folks with arthritis - no more! Current research says "go for it"!


Arthritis is a common and crippling disease that destroys one’s joints, and can cause weakness and loss of movement. People with arthritis generally have reduced endurance and are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, according to new research, high intensity interval training can help people with arthritis improve their endurance and lessen the pain caused by joint inflammation.

Previous studies have recommended moderate-intensity exercise to improve endurance without inducing more pain or inflammation, but this new study suggests that higher intensity exercise can be even more effective.

The study looked at a small group of women who suffered from arthritis. The women went through ten weeks of hard training on a spinning bike. At the conclusion of the study none of the women had had any adverse effects from the intense exercise. Overall the participants had less inflammation, higher maximum oxygen uptake, lower body fat percentages and increased muscle mass. The progress the women saw was so motivational that many of the study participants planned to continue doing high-intensity interval training after the conclusion of the study.

This study was a pilot study to see how high-intensity interval training effected people with arthritis. Its positive results suggest that further research is needed and may lead to changes in recommended training programs.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of cardiovascular exercise, which involves alternating short periods of intense exercise with less-intense periods of recovery. These sessions usually last for anywhere between 4-30 minutes. This type of training has been gaining popularity because it is easier to fit into a busy schedule.

HIIT has been proven to improve athletic capacity, improve glucose metabolism and improve fat burning. It can be used as a weight loss method, but requires a high level of motivation and should only be participated in with doctor approval.


HIIT training has been shown to improve:

  • aerobic and anaerobic fitness

  • blood pressure

  • cardiovascular health

  • insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy)

  • cholesterol profiles

  • abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.


  • To protect the knees: limit standing movements (e.g., climbing, jumping, sprinting).

  • To reduce the physical forces generated by the flywheel and protect joints maintain cadence ranges from 80-100 RPM's on the flats and 70-80 RPM's on the hills.

  • Find a smooth pedal stroke by using light to moderate resistance to reduce unnecessary stress on the knees.

  • Monitor high intensity interval recovery periods by timing how quickly your heart rate returns to 65% of APMHR (220-age X .65%) and limit high-intensity intervals to 85% of APMHR.


Spinning is a non-impact exercise that delivers a great cardiovascular, core and lower body strengthening workout no matter how hard you train. So train smart - have fun - feel great!


  1. Janne Sandstad, Dorthe Stensvold, Mari Hoff, Bjarne M. Nes, Ingerid Arbo, Anja Bye. The effects of high intensity interval training in women with rheumatic disease: a pilot study. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s00421-015-3186-9

  2. Knee Osteoarthritis and the Spinning Program; Training Tips

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