Does a programme of light exercise training after acute myocardial infarction produce the same improvement in treadmill performance as aerobic exercise training? Three hundred and eight men from a consecutive series of 479 men with transmural (Q wave) acute myocardial infarction, admitted to a single coronary care unit, were randomly allocated to eight weeks of group aerobic exercise training or group light exercise. Groups were well matched for all characteristics other than site of infarction, which did not significantly affect results. Mean (SD) physical working capacity (metabolic equivalents) determined by treadmill testing at the start of the study (in the third week after infarction) was 6.8 (2.2) v 6.7 (2.5) METs, at the end (in the eleventh week after infarction) 10.8 (2.3) v 9.9 (2.4) METs, and at 12 month review 10.8 (2.4) v 10.7 (1.9) METs for the exercise training group and the light exercise group respectively. The difference of 0.9 METs at the end of the study was the only significant difference between groups. There were no significant intergroup differences at any stage in resting and maximal heart rate, resting and maximal systolic blood pressure, or rate-pressure product. Apart from a small temporarily greater physical working capacity, the physical benefits of aerobic exercise training were equally well achieved by group light exercise.
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