Resistance exercise training in patients with heart failure.Sports Med. 2005; 35(12):1085-103.SM
The utility, safety and physiological adaptations of resistance exercise training in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) are reviewed and recommendations based on current research are presented. Patients with CHF have a poor clinical status and impaired exercise capacity due to both cardiac limitations and peripheral maladaptations of the skeletal musculature. Because muscle atrophy has been demonstrated to be a hallmark of CHF, the main principle of exercise programmes in such patients is to train the peripheral muscles effectively without producing great cardiovascular stress. For this reason, new modes of training as well as new training methods have been applied. Dynamic resistance training, based on the principles of interval training, has recently been established as a safe and effective mode of exercise in patients with CHF. Patients perform dynamic strength exercises slowly, on specific machines at an intensity usually in the range of 50-60% of one repetition maximum; work phases are of short duration (< or =60 seconds) and should be followed by an adequate recovery period (work/recovery ratio >1 : 2). Patients with a low cardiac reserve can use small free weights (0.5, 1 or 3 kg), elastic bands with 8-10 repetitions, or they can perform resistance exercises in a segmental fashion. Based on recent scientific evidence, the application of specific resistance exercise programmes is safe and induces significant histochemical, metabolic and functional adaptations in skeletal muscles, contributing to the treatment of muscle weakness and specific myopathy occurring in the majority of CHF patients. Increased exercise tolerance and peak oxygen consumption (V-dotO(2peak)), changes in muscle composition, increases in muscle mass, alterations in skeletal muscle metabolism, improvement in muscular strength and endurance have also been reported in the literature after resistance exercise alone or in combination with aerobic exercise. According to new scientific evidence, appropriate dynamic resistance exercise should be recommended as a safe and effective alternative training mode (supplementary to conventional aerobic exercise) in order to counteract peripheral maladaptation and improve muscle strength, which is necessary for recreational and daily living activities, and thus quality of life, of patients with stable, CHF.