Cardiac rehabilitation: Getting more fit may mean easing into HIT!

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Globally, heart disease still is the number one killer among chronic diseases. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programs are an effective strategy for helping heart patients improve their health and reduce their risk for heart-related deaths. CR programs currently have patients perform moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICE).

This traditionally involves walking, jogging, or stationary cycling at a comfortable pace for 30-60 minutes. In this study, the investigators measured fitness levels in heart patients performing a progression of higher-intensity interval training (HIT).

This HIT approach involved short bouts of exercise performed at near maximal effort, followed by recovery periods of slower exercise. HIT outcomes were compared to those from traditional MICE. A total of 772 patients participated and were assigned to HIT or MICE groups for 26 weeks of training; group assignment was balanced according to age and sex.

Results showed that progressive HIT improved fitness levels significantly more than did MICE in patients participating in CR. In addition, HIT improved several other risk factors for heart disease, including depression, more than did MICE. These findings may enhance how exercise training is provided in health care to improve the lives of heart patients.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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