Background: In heart failure, reduced physical activity level can adversely affect physical and psychosocial functioning. No previous heart failure research has compared effects of home and hospital-based exercise training upon physical activity level, or has objectively assessed their long-term effects upon physical activity. This study used an activPAL™ monitor to examine immediate and long-term effects of home and hospital-based aerobic exercise training upon physical activity level.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Methods: Sixty patients with heart failure (mean age 66 years; NYHA class II/III; 51 male/9 female) were randomized to home training, hospital training or control. Both programmes consisted of aerobic circuit training, undertaken twice a week for one hour, for eight weeks. All participants wore the activPAL™ at baseline, and after eight weeks, for one week. Six months after cessation of training, a subgroup of participants from the home and hospital training groups (n = 10 from each group) wore the activPAL™ for a further week.
Results: Hospital-based training significantly increased steps taken per day during 'extra long' (P = 0.04) and 'long' (P = 0.01) walks. Neither programme had any immediate effect upon physical activity level otherwise. Though daily upright duration for the home group significantly improved six months after cessation of training (P = 0.02), generally physical activity level was maintained in the long term for both training groups.
Conclusions: Hospital-based training enabled participants to walk for longer periods. It is clinically important that both training groups maintained physical activity level in the long term, given the potential for heart failure to worsen over this time period.