The higher the better? Intensity of training in CHD patients important to improve fitness

September 20, 2013, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

High-intensity exercise is shown to be protective against coronary heart disease (CHD) and is well known as a popular and time-saving approach to getting fit. But what about people who already have heart disease? Previously, these patients were told to exercise, but only at a moderate intensity to protect their hearts. More recently, however, researchers have found that high-intensity exercise is very beneficial for these patients. But how intense should these sessions actually be?

A new study from the K. G. Jebsen—Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway examines this question in detail. Researchers analyzed data from four randomized, controlled trials conducted at the center to try to determine what characterized the most effective high-intensity training programme for this patient group.

The researchers used changes in VO2max, which is peak , as a measure of the effectiveness of the different regimes. The study participants (n=112) were aged 18+ and all had . The exercise period lasted for 12 weeks. The participants either ran/walked on treadmill, walked uphill outdoors or trained in a group, all following the 4x4 exercise model. The 4x4 exercise model involves 4 minutes of high-intensity exercise followed by 3 minutes of exercise, repeated 4 times.

"When we compared VO2max before and after the training period, we found that the number of training sessions, the subject's age or baseline had no impact," says Trine Moholdt, a at the center and lead author of the study. "But the intensity of the intervals had a significant effect, and seems to be the most important characteristic of an effective interval session."

The intensity of the training was categorized according to the participant's heart rate zone (% of (HRmax)). High-intensity training is when an individual's HR during intensive periods is 85-95% of HRmax.

Overall, VO2max increased by 11.9 % after an average of 23.4 training sessions during the 12-week period for all subjects. However, when participants exercised at an intensity that was greater than 92 % of their HRmax during the high-intensity periods, the effect was even greater than at the lower intensity levels, indicating that there is a dose-response relationship even in the 85-95% high-intensity zone.

Moholdt says that people who start exercising using interval training often have lots of practical questions. How much incline should their treadmill have? Can they shorten their lower-intensity time to just 2 minutes? Why 4 minutes and not 5?

"Knowing that pushing yourself to over 90 % of HRmax may save you from an extra training session that week, encourages us to investigate even the small details," says Moholdt. "When people give priority to exercise in their otherwise busy lives, they want to know that they are doing it the right way. At the same time, I want to emphasize that all exercise is better than none! Some people are not able to exercise at high intensity because of other health problems, and one should then look for other alternatives."

The four studies, which were composed of patients who either had acute coronary syndrome or angina pectoris, confirmed previous findings that high- is safe, even for patients with CHD.

Moholdt says it would be interesting to see if these finding hold true for healthy subjects, as well as for patients with more severe heart disease.

Explore further: Even short bouts of high intensity training improve fitness in inactive men

More information: The article has been published online in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport and is available online at www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S1440244013001539

Related Stories

Even short bouts of high intensity training improve fitness in inactive men

May 29, 2013
It is a commonly held perception that getting in shape and staying there requires hard work and hours upon hours of training. New research shows the opposite – it seems that only four minutes of vigorous activity three ...

New research shows benefit of interval training for women

August 27, 2013
Interval training is a well-known way to get the maximum benefits of exercise in the shortest amount of time. New research shows that when it comes to running, women may get more out of high intensity interval training (HIIT) ...

Exercise for patients with major depression: What kind, how intense, how often?

May 10, 2013
Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), both when used alone and in combination with other treatments. There's now sufficient research data to provide specific guidance on ...

Scientific breakthrough reveals secret to successful exercise programmes

January 18, 2013
Do you feel like exercise just leaves you fatigued without any real improvements? A study of cyclists by scientists at the University of Stirling has uncovered the secret to successful training, a discovery which could help ...

Short, intense bursts of exercise could be better for our health than longer intervals

September 6, 2012
Spending 2 minutes 30 seconds exercising at a high level of intensity, could be better at protecting the body against risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) than longer sessions of less intense exercise, ...

Liver transplant patients have high rates of metabolic syndrome

August 6, 2013
Nearly 59 percent of liver transplant patients experience metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to a study lead by liver specialist Eric R. Kallwitz, MD, of Loyola University ...

Recommended for you

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.