Background: Increased aerobic exercise capacity appears to reduce both all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality. Physical exercise to improve peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) is thus strongly recommended, however evidence regarding the most efficient training intensity for patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) is still lacking. The purpose of this randomized study was therefore to assess the effects of high intensity aerobic interval exercise compared to moderate intensity exercise, representing the same total training load, for increasing VO2peak in stable CAD-patients.
Methods: Twenty-one stable CAD-patients were randomized to supervised treadmill walking at either high intensity (80-90% of VO2peak) or moderate intensity (50-60% of VO2peak) three times a week for 10 weeks.
Results: After training VO2peak increased by 17.9% (P=0.012) in the high intensity group and 7.9% (P=0.038) in the moderate intensity group. The training-induced adaptation was significantly higher in the high intensity group (P=0.011).
Conclusions: High intensity aerobic interval exercise is superior to moderate exercise for increasing VO2peak in stable CAD-patients. As VO2peak seems to reflect a continuum between health and cardiovascular disease and death, the present data may be useful in designing effective training programmes for improved health in the future.