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Physical therapists research ‘spin cycle’ used in workouts (3-30-00)

"Spin" is a popular new exercise option at fitness clubs these days. The spin cycle incorporates a stationary bicycle with a 35-pound flywheel, 10 resistance levels and three hand positions. Exercisers work with a certified instructor for 40 to 60 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity cycling. The cycle manufacturers claim that spin training can benefit everyone. But does it really work?

Researchers in the Department of Physical Therapy at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio recently conducted a study designed to investigate whether a 10-week spin program would result in changes in aerobic capacity, muscle endurance and recovery from fatigue. The study was headed by Kristen I. Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy.

"The results showed that spin training can substantially improve aerobic capacity and the total work that can be performed on the bike," she said. "However, we didn't see similar increases in muscle endurance. If the measures of muscle function were taken differently, we might see more significant improvement in this area."

Dr. Smith said the results are applicable to the general public, especially for people ages 18 to 40 who have no other health problems.

One apparent benefit of spin is that it encourages people to stick with an exercise program through its approach of leadership and group involvement.

Twenty participants were asked to take up the spinning program for 10 weeks at local Racquetball and Fitness Clubs, which made their facilities available to the researchers. Participants were not required to have a history of regular exercise.

Dr. Smith will present her study in June at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Contact: Will Sansom or Jennifer Lorenzo