The beneficial effect of exercise training and exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation on symptom-free exercise capacity,cardiovascular and skeletal muscle function, quality of life, general healthy lifestyle, and reduction of depressive symptoms and psychosocial stress is nowadays well recognized. However, it remains largely obscure, which characteristics of physical activity (PA) and exercise training--frequency, intensity, time (duration), type (mode), and volume (dose: intensity x duration) of exercise--are the most effective. The present paper, therefore, will deal with these exercise characteristics in the management of individuals with cardiovascular disease, i.e. coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure patients, but also in patients with congenital or valvular heart disease. Based on the current literature, and if sufficient evidence is available, recommendations from the European Association on Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation are formulated regarding frequency, intensity, time and type of PA, and safety aspects during exercise inpatients with cardiovascular disease. This paper is the third in a series of three papers, all devoted to the same theme: the importance of the exercise characteristics in the management of cardiovascular health. Part I is directed to the general population and Part II to individuals with cardiovascular risk factors. In general, PA recommendations and exercise training programmes for patients with coronary artery disease or chronic heart failure need to be tailored to the individual's exercise capacity and risk profile, with the aim to reach and maintain the individually highest fitness level possible and to perform endurance exercise training 30–60 min daily (3–5 days per week) in combination with resistance training 2–3 times a week. Because of the frequently reported dose–response relationship between training effect and exercise intensity, one should seek sufficiently high training intensities, although more scientific evidence on effect sizes and safety is warranted. At present, there is insufficient data to give more specific recommendations on type, dosage, and intensity of exercise in some other cardiovascular diseases, such as congenital heart disease, valve disease, cardiomyopathies, channelopathies, and patients with implanted devices.
European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 2012, Vol 19, Issue 6, p. 1333-56