|Image 1: Right in the starting block is where heart health begins... and on the finish line of a marathon race probably is where heart health ends (if not much earlier)|
For their study Trine Moholdt and her colleagues recruited 107 patients who had been hospitalized for myocardial infarction 2-12 weeks before the study and randomly assigned them to usual care rehabilitation or an aerobic interval training performed. In the course of the 12 week study period the exercise protocol was performed thrice a week. Two sessions were supervised, the other one had to be performed at home.
- usual care rehabilitation program - the standard program comprised 60 minutes of aerobic exercises performed to music; the sessions were lead by a physiotherapists, and after a 10-minute warm-up, the patients did aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, lunges and squats for 35 minutes, which were followed by a 5-minute cool-down with stretching and relaxation exercises.
- aerobic interval training - the total session time of the interval training was 38 minutes; it consisted of an 8-minute warm-up, followed by 4x4-minute intervals at 85–95% of the maximum heart rate (monitored by heart rate monitor), with active rest of 3 minutes of walking at 70% of maximum heart in between the intervals; the exercise session was terminated with a 5-minutes cool-down.
|Figure 1: Improvements in VO2Max, peak heart rate, respiratory exchange rate at peak heart rate and heart rate recovery in cardiac patients after 12 weeks on the usual care rehabiliation program or an intense aerobic interval training (data calculated based on Moholdt. 2011)|
Flow-mediated vasodilatation, both non-normalised and normalised to shear stimulus, increased signiﬁcantly after exercise training in both groups [...] Quality of life increased signiﬁcantly after exercise training (between-group diﬀerences, not signiﬁcant)If we look at the blood parameters, however, we do yet see some interesting differences, even your medical practitioner could not argue away:
|Figure 2: Changes in high density lipoprotein and adiponectin in cardiac patients after 12 weeks on the usual care rehabiliation program or an intense aerobic interval training (data calculated based on Moholdt. 2011)|
Unfortunately, the body composition of the patients was not tracked in the study, so this leaves us with the "surprising" benefits of intense interval training for the hearts of patients with prior myocardial infarction as the main result of a study some medical practitioners would probably not even have dared conducting.