The effect of exercise on inflammation
We have all heard that exercise is beneficial and that it should be a part of a healthy lifestyle. There are several benefits of exercise and the benefits may vary depending on what type of exercise we are talking about. The research reviewed is interesting because the investigators compared aerobic exercise with strength training and the effect these two types of training have on inflammation (Stensvold D, et al. 2012).
The participants were inactive men and women diagnosed with metabolic syndrome since the metabolic syndrome is associated with chronic low grade inflammation. All of the participants were tested for serum insulin, highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), IL-18, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha. These are all inflammatory markers except the insulin. The participants were all randomized into either high intensity aerobic interval training, strength training or a control group. The exercises were carried out three times per week for 12 weeks.
The first thing that was interesting was that aerobic exercise rather than strength training reduced IL-18 by 43%. Second, only IL-18 was reduced, the other inflammatory markers did not change.
Insulin did not change in either of the groups, but both aerobic exercise and strength training reduced fat mass.
It is important to remember that not all types of exercise produce the same benefits. Since aerobic exercise and strength training provide different benefits you are better off if you do a combination of both.
Exercise does not have to take a lot of time. For example, high intensity short interval training takes very little time, but still provides the same benefits as long duration aerobic training.
Included in the program offered at Learn to Eat is an explanation of how to do high intensity short interval training, since physical activity and eating correctly are both important.