High-intensity interval training (HIIT) tops the American College of Sports Medicine’s list of most popular workouts. According to a small study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, it might be just the ticket for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), too.
HIIT is an aerobic, heart-pumping form of exercise where short bursts of maximum effort, usually lasting from 20 to 60 seconds, alternate with less intense recovery periods. Studies suggest that HIIT is as effective at burning calories and improving heart and lung health as steady-state exercises like running or biking. One 2018 meta-analysis found that HIIT was significantly better than moderately intense steady exercise for patients with heart disease.
Only a few small studies have looked at HIIT for people who have RA. On the whole, they showed that participants lost weight, gained muscle and improved their joint health without any increase in inflammation or pain. But researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, wanted to learn more, including whether HIIT could improve disease activity and immune function.