A small study of 35 people by the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, found arm exercises were just as effective as a treadmill workout in improving walking distance among people who suffer leg pain caused by peripheral artery disease or PAD. The condition is caused by poor blood flow.
"The blood vessels in the arms can release things into the blood stream that help the whole body. And clearly this study would suggest exercise of any kind is good," explains Dr. Marc Penn, Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Penn notes the results is good news for people who are sidelined with leg pain.
"We ask people to walk and they say I can't walk because my legs hurt. Well if you can't walk your legs aren't going to get better. If we can't open blood vessels this would suggest, fine, don't walk, sit but exercise your arms," says Penn.
Now, there truly is no excuse.
PAD affects more than 8 million Americans, including about 20 percent of people over age 65.
The patients in this study used an arm ergometer, a table-top bicycle-like device where pedals are pushed with arms instead of legs.