The authors compared the effects of continuous (CON) and intermittent (INT) exercise training programs on functional capacity, quality of life (QOL), and cardiac function in 23 congestive heart failure patients. Patients were randomized to CON exercise training (n=13; aged 66±7 years; peak oxygen consumption [VO(2)], 12.4±2.5 mL/kg/min; weight, 83±12 kg; left ventricular ejection fraction [LVEF], 29.5%±7.2%) or INT exercise training (n=10; aged 59±11 years; VO(2), 12.2±6.5 mL/kg/min; weight, 87±24 kg; LVEF 27%±7.9%). These groups completed 16 weeks of stationary cycling at 70% VO(2) thrice weekly for 30 minutes continuously or 60 minutes (60 seconds work:60 seconds rest) intermittently; both groups completed the same absolute volume of work. Three QOL questionnaire responses, VO(2), LVEF, and regional tissue Doppler were quantified. After exercise training, VO(2) increased by 13% in the CON group (P=.12) and significantly by 21% in the INT group (P=.03), although not significantly between the groups (P=.72). In the CON group, Minnesota Living With Heart Failure score improved at 16 weeks (P=.02), while in the INT group, Hare-Davis scores improved (P=.02). Cardiac volumes, resting and peak LVEF, contractile reserve, and tissue velocities were all unchanged from baseline. Intermittent exercise may improve functional capacity to a greater extent than continuous exercise. QOL changes were variable between groups.
© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.