PITTSBURGH—One in two subjects with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis (OA) demonstrated improvements in walking performance after completing a 12-week, community-based Spinning® group cycling program, according to a recent study accepted for presentation at the World Conference for Physical Therapy. Spinning program participants demonstrated significant improvements in preferred gait velocity and reduced gait asymmetry at maximum velocity compared to members of a non-cycling control group.

“We know that the gait abnormalities symptomatic of knee OA can impact mobility and quality of life,” says Dr. Kelly Krohn, the study’s primary investigator. “Yet research examining the Spinning program’s potential to ameliorate these issues had not been previously conducted.”

Forty-one volunteers between the ages of 37 and 74 with confirmed knee OA were recruited and randomly assigned to a Spinning program or control groups. Subjects were evaluated for baseline fitness by measuring VO2max, target heart rate zones and gait pattern. At baseline, no age or self-reported weight differences existed between the groups.

At least twice a week for 12 weeks, the Spinning program subjects participated in supervised classes designed to maximize aerobic fitness while limiting direct knee joint stress. Classes progressed from 40 to 60 minutes and included warm-ups, fast-cadence pedaling, simulated hill-climbs, cool downs and stretching. Using a heart rate monitor, subjects were instructed to remain within 70 to 75 percent of their predicted maximum heart rate. Control subjects continued their current fitness activities but did not participate in Spinning classes.

Measurements taken after 12 weeks were compared with those obtained at baseline. The Spinning program participants demonstrated greater mean gait velocity and step length differential at maximum velocity, greater mean increase in preferred velocity/cadence and a reduction in step length asymmetry at maximum velocity compared to the control group.

The study provides evidence that an indoor group cycling program is a viable long-term option for persons with mild to moderate knee OA, and one that may improve quality of life for OA sufferers.

Support for this study was received from the Pittsburgh National Corporation Arthritis Research Fund, Mad Dog Athletic Corporation and the Jewish Community Center, Pittsburgh PA, USA.