The effects of resistance training on muscle strength, quality of life and aerobic capacity in patients with chronic heart failure - A meta-analysis

Int J Cardiol. 2017 Jan 15;227:413-423. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2016.11.023. Epub 2016 Nov 7.


Background: Resistance training (RT) has been utilised to target muscle dysfunction associated with Chronic Heart Failure (CHF). However, there is limited meta-analysis evidence to support its use as a standalone therapy. This meta-analysis examined the effects of RT on muscle strength (one repetition maximum, 1RM and Peak Torque), aerobic capacity (VO2peak and 6min walk distance) and quality of life (QoL) in patients with CHF.

Methods: We searched Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane and CINAHL for studies published up to July 2016, combining terms related to the population (eg, heart failure, CHF) with terms for the intervention (eg, resistance, strength training) and the outcomes (eg, QoL, VO2peak,strength, aerobic capacity).

Results: Ten studies including 240 participants were included in our meta-analysis (aged 48-76years, Ejection Fraction 18-37%). Training duration ranged from 8 to 24weeks and intensity up to 80% of 1RM. RT increased 1RM (standardised change score=0.60; 95% Confidence Interval: 0.43, 0.77) but not strength measured via peak torque at 60°/s-1 and 180°/s-1. RT increased VO2peak (CSMD: 2.71ml/kg/min; 1.96, 3.45) and QoL (CSMD: -5.71; -9.85, -1.56).

Conclusion: RT as a single intervention can increase muscle strength, aerobic capacity and QoL in patients with CHF and may offer an alternative approach, particularly for those unable to participate in aerobic training. The effect of RT on muscle strength is mainly during slow controlled movements and not during rapid movements. Older adults and patients with advanced CHF are underrepresented in RT trials and future studies should seek to optimise their inclusion.

Keywords: Aerobic capacity; Chronic heart failure; Meta-analysis; Muscle strength; Quality of life; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise Tolerance*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Heart Failure / psychology
  • Heart Failure / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Resistance Training*