High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases - The key to an efficient exercise protocol

World J Cardiol. 2019 Jul 26;11(7):171-188. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v11.i7.171.


Aerobic capacity, which is expressed as peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak), is well-known to be an independent predictor of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular prognosis. This is true even for people with various coronary risk factors and cardiovascular diseases. Although exercise training is the best method to improve VO2peak, the guidelines of most academic societies recommend 150 or 75 min of moderate- or vigorous- intensity physical activities, respectively, every week to gain health benefits. For general health and primary and secondary cardiovascular prevention, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been recognized as an efficient exercise protocol with short exercise sessions. Given the availability of the numerous HIIT protocols, which can be classified into aerobic HIIT and anaerobic HIIT [usually called sprint interval training (SIT)], professionals in health-related fields, including primary physicians and cardiologists, may find it confusing when trying to select an appropriate protocol for their patients. This review describes the classifications of aerobic HIIT and SIT, and their differences in terms of effects, target subjects, adaptability, working mechanisms, and safety. Understanding the HIIT protocols and adopting the correct type for each subject would lead to better improvements in VO2peak with higher adherence and less risk.

Keywords: Aerobic capacity; Chronic heart failure; Coronary artery disease; Exercise; Health; High-intensity interval training; Lifestyle; Peak O2 consumption; Prevention; Training.

Publication types

  • Review