Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death, taking millions of lives every year. You know how you could reduce the risk of it – you need to exercise more and eat healthy. But how do you recover from heart disease that’s already here? Scientists from the University of Queensland found that the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) might be the answer.
Heart needs exercise. You hear about it all the time – you need to do cardio. This includes running, cycling, swimming and doing other kinds of continuous exercise that makes you sweat and temporarily increases your heart rate. In the long run exercising actually reduces your resting heart rate, which is a sign of fitness. But what kind of exercising is best for cardiac rehabilitation? Scientists tested HIIT against the moderate-intensity continuous training.
Researchers looked into a four week exercise program with a 12 month follow-up and found that the HIIT program improved the fitness of cardiac patients by 10 %. Meanwhile moderate exercise achieved a 4 % improvement. 12 months after the programs have been completed results in fitness weren’t much different. Except for those that continued exercising with the HIIT program three times a week – they showed greater fitness improvements. These are quite interesting findings, because for decades moderate exercise was considered to be ideal for a healthy heart.
Now scientists are looking into changing the guidelines for heart disease patients. They say that HIIT is very good for certain patients recovering from coronary artery disease, but it is always important to follow your doctor’s advice. The advantage of HIIT is that it can improve the patient’s fitness quickly and fitness is a strong factor predicting mortality. But it can also be quite fun. Dr Jenna Taylor, one of the authors of the study, said that HIIT “can help patients improve their fitness more quickly in recovery and can add variety, enjoyment, and confidence to an exercise program. HIIT may be particularly appealing for patients who have engaged in sports or high intensity exercise training prior to their cardiac event.” It is very important for people to get enjoyment from their exercise routines. This helps to stay motivated and maintain the new training regiment.
Of course, everything depends on the patient’s condition. Combination of moderate and intensive exercise for some might be the best option. For others straight HIIT is more ideal and will help elevate their fitness levels the fastest. However, the current guidelines recommend moderate exercise as the best option and it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Source: University of Queensland