Do you have clients who suffer from peripheral artery disease (PAD)? A recent report may suggest a link between treadmill walking and condition improvements.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, PAD is a condition in which narrow arteries reduce blood supply to the limbs. PAD is usually the result of excess arterial fatty deposits caused by poor nutrition and/or smoking. The website also states that, while symptoms are minor, some sufferers can experience leg pain while walking and can be at risk for reduced blood flow to the heart and brain. A study published in the January 14 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (2009; 301 [2], 165–74) has found that PAD patients who use a treadmill can improve walking endurance and quality of life.

The study included 156 patients with PAD who were divided into three categories for 6 months: supervised treadmill walking, lower-extremity resistance training (no information was provided as to the type of resistance training involved), and a nonexercise control. Testing protocol consisted of a 6-minute walking test, arterial diameter change measurements and more. Upon study completion the walking group managed an average increase in distance walked of 69 feet and experienced positive changes in arterial blood flow. The resistance exercise group improved walking distance by an average of 41 feet, but did not show significant improvements in arterial blood flow. Study authors stated that “supervised treadmill training improved 6-minute walk performance, treadmill walking performance, brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, and quality of life but did not improve the short physical performance battery scores of PAD participants with and without intermittent claudication. Lower extremity resistance training improved functional performance measured by treadmill walking, quality of life, and stair climbing ability.”