Interval Training proven safe and beneficial for people with severe CF disease


New member
Just wanted to share the highlights of this article for everyone like myself who has severe lung disease. It can be really hard to get off your butt and try to jog when your lungs are wheezing and you are coughing every 5 seconds, but a scientific study has been done which shows it is safe and beneficial for really sick people - some of the people in the this study were awaiting lung transplant and even they benefited!

High intensity interval exercise training (IT) consists of
numerous sets of repetitive short bouts of high intensity
exercise alternating with bouts of low exercise intensity
exercise (“active recovery”) or short periods of passive rest.
Subsequent IT sets are separated by longer periods of passive
rest. IT has been shown to be an effective stimulus to working
muscles with minimal cardiac or pulmonary strain

Safety and effectiveness of IT is of specific interest in the more
severely impaired CF-population. Their low exercise capacity
and pulmonary constraints allow only short term intermittent
efforts, which also reflect their freely chosen pattern of exercise
and activities of daily life. The greater improvements of exercise
capacity either at VT1 or VT2 may also reflect peripheral
muscular adaptations in spite of minimal or diminishing potential
for pulmonary improvement [15,18,27]. This may lead to
improved ability to adhere to exercise and enhanced physical
activity in daily life, known as independent factors of quality
of life and prognosis [28].

The present study showed that IT is an exercise training
method which is safe in patients with CF who are unable to
participate in SEP. IT is less time consuming than SEP (Standard Exercise Program'and
patients perceived IT as less strenuous compared to constant
workload. Compared to SEP, IT improved submaximal exercise
capacity to a greater extent than SEP, whereas responsiveness of
maximal exercise capacity was higher in the SEP. Overall this
seems to indicate a specific potential for positive peripheral
muscular adaptations in spite of minimal or diminishing potential
of pulmonary improvement. From a practical point of view, IT
represents an alternative, effective and safe training regimen with
patients with CF and severe lung disease, with a greater potential
of training effects helping to cope better with the physical
demands of daily activities than SEP

So what kind of exercise did participants do?
"The IT treadmill program was performed at the individual's
comfortable continuous walking speed, between 3 and 4 km/h
lasting 16 min, 5 times weekly and consisted of ten intervals of
20 or 30 s high intensity bouts at 50% of maximal grade
achieved during SRT (Steep Ramp Test), followed by 60 s active recovery phases
at 0% grade treadmill inclination. Supplemental oxygen was
administered to reach a hemoglobin oxygen saturation of more
than 90% during exercise training. The SRT was repeated every
2 weeks to adjust 50% MSEC according to potential individual
changes in MSEC" (As far as I can figure out, MSEC is the maximum treadmill incline achieved during the steep ramp test (SRT) for a given patient)

More About SRT and MSEC:
The SRT, additionally performed by the IT group only, was a
treadmill test (modified Balke-protocol). As proposed by Meyer
et al. [14] this test had a substantially higher increase in power
per time than the original Balke-protocol or the CPET cycle
ergometer test described above. After familiarizing with the
treadmill and a warm-up phase of 2 min (speed 4 km/h, grade 0%)
the workload was increased every 20 s by 2.5% grade with
constant velocity (4 km/h) until exhaustion. During the SRT all
subjects received supplemental oxygen via nasal cannula. The
maximum inclination (power) achieved during SRT is called
“maximum short-time exercise capacity (MSEC)” [14] and is
primarily determined by early onset of peripheral muscle fatigue.
The training intensity of the “high intensity phases” of the IT was
set at 50% of MSEC treadmill inclination.

Original Article
Interval exercise training in cystic fibrosis — Effects on exercise capacity in
severely affected adults
Wolfgang Gruber a,⁎, David M. Orenstein b
, Klaus M. Braumann a
, Ralph Beneke c
a Institute for Sports and Exercise Medicine, University of Hamburg, Mollerstraße 10, 20148 Hambur Interval training in adults with severe disease.pdf



HIIT discussed in the NY Times with regards to positive effects on people with chronic illnesses including COPD.

A couple of quotes from the article:

"Among the physiological benefits of HIIT are the body’s increased ability to use oxygen and insulin, as well as arteries that are more elastic than continuous moderate exercise can achieve."

"Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are often unable to exercise long enough to gain needed health benefits. But they can do HIIT for long periods with less shortness of breath and leg discomfort, researchers at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens have reported."