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Interval training can help with cardiac disease sufferers


Steve Spinks
4 March 2014
Men suffering from cardiac disease can significantly improve their aerobic capacity by varying their standard rehabilitation exercises to include higher intensity interval training, according to research from Southern Cross University.

Dr Suzanne Broadbent, from the School of Health and Human Sciences, was the lead researcher of a study that was recently published in the Journal of Fitness Research, ‘Higher Intensity Interval Training Improves Aerobic Capacity and Metabolic Profile in Men With Cardiac Disease: A Pilot Study’.

“Traditionally, low to moderate intensity rehabilitation exercise is normally recommended for Phase 2 cardiac patients, that is patients who have been discharged from hospital after an event,” Dr Broadbent said.

“This has been shown to improve quality of life, functional capacity and all-cause and cardiac mortality rates. However, low-moderate intensity steady state-continuous exercise may not provide enough stimuli for cardiovascular and metabolic profile improvements in stable patients.

“We thought higher intensity exercise intervals may benefit cardiac patients wishing to return to recreational sport, physically demanding employment or vigorous activities for daily living. The concern was that very high intensity interval training may not be a realistic form of training for cardiac patients for a variety of reasons.”

Dr Broadbent and her team conducted their study over 12 weeks and their 25 participants took part in higher intensity aerobic interval training plus progressive resistance training. Measurements were taken before the study commenced including height, body mass index, resting heart rate and blood pressure, aerobic capacity, muscular strength and endurance and bloods were also drawn and analysed. The training consisted of three weekly sessions of cycling for 35 minutes of various intensity, followed by 25 minutes of resistance training and stretching.

“Our principal findings were that 12 weeks of higher intensity interval training and progressive resistance training improved aerobic capacity, abdominal muscular strength, body composition, fasting cholesterol and glucose in the participants when compared with those participating in standard rehabilitation,” Dr Broadbent said.

“Our results saw significant reductions in resting heart rate and blood pressure, increased aerobic capacity, exercise tolerance, reduced blood lipids and glucose and improved body composition. There were no adverse cardiac events during the study.

“We believe this pilot study provides further evidence of the efficacy and safety of mixed-model exercise regimens incorporating higher intensity interval training and progressive resistance training for cardiac and other clinical populations.”

Photo: Dr Suzanne Broadbent.