Aerobic Interval Training vs. Moderate Continuous Training in Coronary Artery Disease Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Exercise training improves exercise capacity (peakVO2), which is closely related to long-term survival in cardiac patients. However, it remains unclear which type and intensity of exercise is most effective for improving exercise tolerance and body weight. Individual studies suggest that aerobic interval training (AIT) might increase peakVO2 more in this population.


We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize the effects of AIT compared with moderate continuous training (MCT) on peakVO2, submaximal exercise capacity, and body weight in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) with preserved and/or reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF).

Data sources and study selection

A systematic search was conducted and we included randomized trials comparing AIT and MCT in CAD patients lasting at least 4 weeks, reporting peakVO2 results, and published in a peer-reviewed journal up to May 2013. The primary outcome measure was peakVO2. Secondary outcomes were submaximal exercise capacity parameters and body weight.

Synthesis methods

Random- and fixed-effects models were used and data were reported as weighted means and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs).


Nine study groups were included, involving 206 patients (100 AIT, 106 MCT). Overall, AIT resulted in a significantly larger increase in peakVO2 [+1.60 mL/kg/min (95 % CI 0.18–3.02; p = 0.03)] compared with MCT. MCT seemed to be more effective in reducing body weight (−0.78 kg; 95 % CI −0.01 to 1.58; p = 0.05).


The small number of studies might have affected the power to reach significance for the secondary outcomes.


In CAD patients with preserved and/or reduced LVEF, AIT is superior to MCT for improving peakVO2, while MCT seems to be more effective in reducing body weight. However, large, well-designed, randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm these findings.

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