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Exercise Does Not Cause Inflammation

Since inflammation is linked to heart attacks, should you be concerned that hard exercise may cause inflammation?

Anything that damages tissue can cause inflammation, such as smoking, high cholesterol or hypertension. When a germ gets into your body, your immunity produces proteins called antibodies, white blood cells and cytokines that kill germs. However, as soon as the germ is gone, your immunity is supposed to shut down. If it doesn’t shut down, these same factors attack and destroy your body tissues; this is called inflammation. Inflammation increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers, and diabetes and even worsens diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

Many scientists have expressed concern that hard exercise damages muscles, so it may turn on inflammation and harm you. However, a study from Verona, Italy shows that hard exercise does not cause inflammation (Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, October 25, 2005). It measured C reactive protein, a blood test that indicates inflammation, and showed that there was no difference in levels in sedentary people, those who cycle for fitness, competitive professional bicycle racers and international-class cross country skiers. So muscle damage from hard exercise does not increase inflammation.

More on inflammation

Checked 1/15/13

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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