exercise intensity, exercise prescription, peripheral arterial disease



  1. Ritti-Dias, Raphael Mendes PhD
  2. de Moraes Forjaz, Claudia Lucia PhD
  3. Cucato, Gabriel Grizzo BS
  4. Costa, Luis Augusto Riani MD
  5. Wolosker, Nelson PhD
  6. de Fatima Nunes Marucci, Maria PhD


PURPOSE: Walking training is considered as the first treatment option for patients with peripheral arterial disease and intermittent claudication (IC). Walking exercise has been prescribed for these patients by relative intensity of peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), ranging from 40% to 70% VO2peak, or pain threshold (PT). However, the relationship between these methods and anaerobic threshold (AT), which is considered one of the best metabolic markers for establishing training intensity, has not been analyzed. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare, in IC patients, the physiological responses at exercise intensities usually prescribed for training (% VO2peak or % PT) with the ones observed at AT.


METHODS: Thirty-three IC patients performed maximal graded cardiopulmonary treadmill test to assess exercise tolerance. During the test, heart rate (HR), VO2, and systolic blood pressure were measured and responses were analyzed at the following: 40% of VO2peak; 70% of VO2peak; AT; and PT.


RESULTS: Heart rate and VO2 at 40% and 70% of VO2peak were lower than those at AT (HR: -13 +/- 9% and -3 +/- 8%, P < .01, respectively; VO2: -52 +/- 12% and -13 +/- 15%, P < .01, respectively). Conversely, HR and VO2 at PT were slightly higher than those at AT (HR: +3 +/- 8%, P < .01; VO2: +6 +/- 15%, P = .04). None of the patients achieved the respiratory compensation point.


CONCLUSION: Prescribing exercise for IC patients between 40% and 70% of VO2peak will induce a lower stimulus than that at AT, whereas prescribing exercise at PT will result in a stimulus above AT. Thus, prescribing exercise training for IC patients on the basis of PT will probably produce a greater metabolic stimulus, promoting better cardiovascular benefits.