According to new research, aerobic exercise turns an enlarged heart into a trimmer, more efficient organ for pumping blood throughout the body.
In contrast, Dr. Mark J. Haykowsky and colleagues observed that strength training, either alone or in combination with aerobic training, appeared to be of no benefit. These opposing findings may underlie the inconsistent results of studies of exercise training in patients with heart failure.
Haykowsky, from the University of Alberta, searched for relevant studies and identified 14 trials that assessed heart performance in 812 stable patients with heart failure.
Nine trials evaluated aerobic training, four evaluated combined aerobic and strength training, and one involved strength training alone. The results showed that aerobics training improved the condition of the heart.
The positive changes occurred even though the patients were already on drugs proven to benefit heart function, Haykowsky’s team found. In fact, they found that magnitude of improvement in heart function was similar to that from standard drugs.