I just saw this article that mentions benefits of strength training on inflammation. I don’t know if any of it translates to autoimmune diseases, but I’m going to try adding some pushups to my routine. (See here and here for information on cytokines and psoriasis.)
Strength training also seems to be a potent antidote to inflammation, a major risk factor for heart disease and other conditions, says Schoenfeld. A 2010 study from the University of Connecticut linked regular resistance training with inflammation-quelling shifts in the body’s levels of cytokines, a type of immune system protein. Another study from Mayo Clinic found that when overweight women did twice-weekly resistance training sessions, they had significant drops in several markers of inflammation.
From the first study:
Resistance training (RT) is associated with reduced risk of low grade inflammation related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The majority of the data studying cytokines and exercise comes from endurance exercise. In contrast, evidence establishing a relationship between RT and inflammation is more limited. This review focuses on the cytokine responses both following an acute bout, and after chronic RT. In addition, the effect of RT on low grade systemic inflammation such as individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes is reviewed. Cytokines are secreted proteins that influence the survival, proliferation, and differentiation of immune cells and other organ systems. Cytokines function as intracellular signals and almost all cells in the body either secrete them or have cytokine receptors. Thus, understanding cytokine role in a specific physiological situation such as a bout of RT can be exceedingly complex. The overall effect of long term RT appears to ameliorate inflammation, but the specific effects on the inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha are not clear, requiring further research. Furthermore, it is critical to differentiate between chronically and acute Interleukin-6 levels and its sources. The intensity of the RT and the characteristics of the training protocol may exert singular cytokine responses and as a result different adaptations to exercise. More research is needed in the area of RT in healthy populations, specifically sorting out gender and age RT acute responses. More importantly, studies are needed in obese individuals who are at high risk of developing low grade systemic inflammatory related diseases. Assuring adherence to the RT program is essential to get the benefits after overcoming the first acute RT responses. Hence RT could be an effective way to prevent, and delay low grade systemic inflammatory related diseases.
From the second study:
Background: Overweight individuals commonly demonstrate elevated levels of inflammatory and cell adhesion molecules. Elevated levels of inflammation and adhesion have been implicated in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. Aerobic exercise has been shown to be effective in altering specific biomarkers of inflammation and cell adhesion; however, little is known regarding the effects of resistance training (RT) on these biomarkers. This study examined the effects of 1 year of moderate-intensity RT on biomarkers of inflammation and adhesion in healthy, overweight women. Methods and Results: Participants included 28 (12 control, 16 RT) overweight (body mass indexX25 kg/m 2 ) women, aged 25–44 years, studied before and after 1 year of RT. C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), adiponectin, intracellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and E-selectin were measured by standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Body composition, blood pressure, fasting blood lipids, glucose and insulin also were assessed. There were no significant changes in blood pressure, fasting blood lipids, glucose or insulin levels in either group after 1 year. There was also no change in body mass or fat mass in either group; however, there was a significant increase in lean body mass (Po0.05) in the RT group. Both CRP (Po0.01) and adiponectin (Po0.01) demonstrated significant improvements in the RT group, with no change in IL-6. Conversely, there were no associated changes in the biomarkers of cell adhesion in either group.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that moderate-intensity RT significantly results in modest improvements of inflammatory markers without affecting cell adhesion molecules in overweight women.