Interval training is an extremely effective form of cardiovascular exercise that has been gaining popularity. It incorporates sessions of short intense bursts such as sprinting which is called the “work cycle”. This is followed by an interval of lower intensity exercise such as walking. This is called the “rest cycle.”
More and more research of late has surprisingly shown the effectiveness of interval training for people with heart disease. The results of the related research also shows the tremendous benefit of interval training for healthy individuals.
Quite a number of initial studies in patients with coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure have shown that the effectiveness of a high intensity training regime may be greater compared with traditional endurance training methods. Endurance training is any form of cardio training such as jogging or swimming that is done at a constant pace. High intensity aerobic interval training is now being recommended for several disease populations as quoted in the American Journal of Physiology. Aerobic interval training involves having participants exercise briefly at higher exercise intensities (90%–95% of maximum oxygen consumption) followed by a period of recovery
An excerpt from the abstract of a study entitled “The role of exercise interval training in treating cardiovascular disease risk factors” elaborated on the benefits of interval training as follows;
Although the net effect of interval training is aerobic, this style of training involves periodic excursions of exercise intensity into “anaerobic” metabolism and appears to better stimulate whole-body cardio-respiratory improvements as well as cellular signaling involved in metabolism and energy flux”.
A study published in the prestigious American Journal of Cardiology looked at the effectiveness of interval training for the rehabilitation of patients with coronary artery disease. The researchers concluded that interval training provided an effective means to improve the cardiovascular fitness and health of patients with coronary artery disease. They also further elaborated that interval training improved anaerobic tolerance to a greater extent than the traditional exercise training model without increasing the risk to the patient. The researches ended with a recommendation for the implementation of interval training for highly functional patients with coronary artery disease.
The medical faculty had long known that exercise reduced the symptoms of chronic heart failure. What was not clear was the exercise intensity necessary for optimum results. A study that looked into these factors was published in the Journal Circulation. It looked at the benefits of aerobic interval training as compared to moderate continuous endurance training in heart failure patients.
In summary, it was found that aerobic interval training increased the VO2 peak in heart failure patients by 42%. The VO2 peak increased by was 14 % in patients on continuous or steady state cardiovascular training. This showed tremendous increase in fitness and aerobic capacity attributed to interval training.
The ejection fraction of the left ventricle increased to 35% from 29%. The LV ejection fraction is the volume of blood pumped by the left ventricle with each heart beat. Healthy individuals have an ejection fraction from 58% to 65%. The mitochondrial activity in the thigh muscle also increased with interval training. There was no such mitochondrial effect with endurance training.
Researchers of the study concluded that exercise intensity was important for improving aerobic capacity and quality of life in patients with heart failure after having a heart attack. The same benefit would also be derived by healthy individuals. The researchers further elaborated that their findings will have important implications for exercise training in heart failure rehabilitation programs.
Interval training had the ability to increase the heart’s pumping ability and even additional mitochondrial activity in muscle. These benefits should motivate healthy individuals to incorporate interval training as an essential exercise for fitness and health. Interval training is an essential tool for correct weight loss, fitness and health.