Is high intensity training good for heart patients?
Since exercise increases a person’s heart rate, it seems logical to think that people who have coronary heart disease (CHD) should only exercise at low to moderate intensity, right?
However, recent research has shown that high-intensity workouts can actually be very beneficial for those with CHD. Researchers at the K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise In Medicine in Norway took a deeper dive into this notion.
Led by Trine Moholdt, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center, the researchers gathered data from four randomized, controlled trials that lasted 12 weeks. The 112 participants all had coronary heart disease.
Each group followed a four by four exercise method, which incorporated four minutes of a high-intensity exercise, followed by three minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, repeated four times. For the exercise to be considered high-intensity, the participants’ heart rate needed to be between 85 to 95 percent of their maximum heart rate. The trainings included running and walking on a treadmill, walking uphill outside or cardiac training in a group.
They found that a higher intensity routine led to a higher heart rate resulting in greater peak oxygen uptake. The higher peak oxygen level indicated that the higher intensity exercises were more effective. Additionally, with these results, the study authors believe that that high-intensity training is safe for patients with coronary heart disease.
“High-intensity training is getting very popular,” says Dr. Vincent Bufalino, vice president of cardiovascular services at Advocate Health Care. “With busy schedules, people are trying to find ways to fit in a workout in a short period of time.”
“While this report builds on earlier research that high-intensity exercise is good for CHD patients, if you have a heart condition, it’s very important to check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine,” Dr. Bufalino cautions. “Not everyone can exercise at high-intensity levels, and it may not be the best option for some patients. If a high-intensity workout is not an option, a moderate-intensity workout will still have a meaningful, positive impact on your health.”
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