Carpal tunnel syndrome is associated with greater body mass index and less physical activity. To determine the effect of aerobic exercise on median nerve conduction and symptoms suggestive of carpal tunnel syndrome, 30 symptomatic volunteers (30 to 64 years old) with abnormal median nerve conduction studies participated in a 10-month program of supervised aerobic exercise. Changes in percentage of body fat, body mass index, peak oxygen consumption, 14-cm median sensory latency, and hand/wrist symptoms were assessed. A decrease in 14-cm sensory median latency correlated with a decrease in percentage of body fat (R = 0.52, P = 0.004) and was predicted by an increase in peak oxygen utilization (partial R = 0.52, P = 0.005) and a decrease in body mass index (partial R = 0.47, P = 0.014). There was also a tendency for a set of symptoms sometimes associated with carpal tunnel syndrome (pain, tightness, and clumsiness) to be relieved by the exercise program. These results suggest that an aerobic exercise program can be beneficial to median nerve function and may be associated with a reduction in hand symptoms.
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