Just 20 Minutes Of Moderate Exercise Can Calm Inflammation

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Just one 20 minute exercise session can function as an anti-inflammatory, according to researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

The UC study findings may contribute to new therapies for chronic conditions such a fibromyalgia, arthritis, and obesity.

“Each time we exercise, we are truly doing something good for our body on many levels, including at the immune cell level,” said senior author Suzi Hong, Ph.D., at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “The anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise have been known to researchers, but finding out how that process happens is the key to safely maximizing those benefits.”

During exercise, the brain and sympathetic nervous system create changes - such as faster heart rate and higher blood pressure - so the body can do increased work. Hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine are released, triggering specific receptors on immune cells.

This immunological activation during exercise leads to the production of cytokines (proteins) including one called TNF—a primary regulator of inflammation that also boosts immune responses. “Our study found one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a five percent decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF,” said Hong.

For this study, the 47 participants walked on a treadmill at speeds adjusted for their fitness level. Blood samples were drawn before, and right after the 20 minute session.

“Twenty minutes to half-an-hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, appears to be sufficient,” said Hong. “Feeling like a workout needs to be at a peak exertion level for a long duration can intimidate those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases and could greatly benefit from physical activity.”

Knowing that moderate exercise can act as an anti-inflammatory is promising. However, the researchers recommend anyone with chronic inflammatory disease consult their physician before starting a new exercise regimen.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Mr.TinDC


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Fibromyalgia is a prevalent condition that affects many people in the United States. Approximately 3.7 million Americans have Fibromyalgia. That is 1 in every 73 people.

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