We’ve discussed high intensity aerobic and anaerobic training for the athletic and general populations previously. Would the same apply to the rehabilitative population? Yes!

Guiard et al. (2012) completed a literature review, that demonstrated patients were more compliant with and received greater benefits from high intensity interval training compared to moderate intensity continuous exercise. Among the articles cited, was Swain’s and Franklin’s 2006 article demonstrating that high intensity exercise improved systolic blood pressure, lipid profiles and body fat % for the same total energy expenditure as a continuous exercise protocol.

Globas et al. (2012) completed a randomized control trial of stroke survivors on a standard moderate intensity treadmill protocol versus a high intensity one. The high-intensity participants demonstrated improvements in VO2max, 6-minute walking distance, walking speed, balance and mental function (ranging from p <0.05 to p <0.001).

Similarly, Gjellesvik et al. (2012) study on stroke found similar results. Patients’ treadmill walking at 85-95% of predicted peak HR for 4x4minutes had far better 1 year outcomes compared to the standard protocol of 60-80% for 20-30min.

While following an athletic regimen is clearly beyond the scope for the cardiac and cerebral rehabilitative population,  benefits from higher intensity aerobic rehabilitation are there to be had compared to the current standard protocols.