According to a new study featured on Science Daily, certain hardcore exercises may be beneficial to heart disease patients.

Researchers from the K. G. Jebsen--Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway asked 112 coronary heart disease patients to exercise using the 4x4 model—four minutes of high-intensity activities followed by three minutes of moderate exercises to be done four times.

Lead study author Trine Moholdt and her team of experts then looked at changes in VO2max, the peak ability of the body to transport and use oxygen while exercising, as a measure of fitness. “When we compared VO2max before and after the training period, we found that the number of training sessions, the subject's age or baseline fitness levels had no impact. But the intensity of the intervals had a significant effect, and seems to be the most important characteristic of an effective interval session," Moholdt explains.

After 12 weeks, all the participants had a VO2max increase of 11.9 percent. “However, when participants exercised at an intensity that was greater than 92 % of their HRmax (maximum heart rate) during the high-intensity periods, the effect was even greater than at the lower intensity levels,” she adds. This means that the more intense the exercise, the higher a person’s VO2 max becomes. As VO2 max is a good indicator of cardiovascular fitness, this means that even those with coronary heart disease may benefit from high-intensity exercises.

“I want to emphasize that all exercise is better than none! Some people are not able to exercise at high intensity because of other health problems, and one should then look for other alternatives,” says Moholdt. However, individuals with heart problems should first ask their doctors about what exercises would be okay to do.

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(Photo by lululemon athletica via Flickr Creative Commons)

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