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Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2006 Dec;13(6):886-93.

The effect of cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs on feelings of energy and fatigue: a meta-analysis of research from 1945 to 2005.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-6554, USA.



Physical activity is a healthful behavior that has promise for combating feelings of low energy and fatigue. Despite evidence suggesting that fatigue is a prodromal symptom of major cardiac events, improvements in feelings of energy and fatigue have largely been ignored by reviewers of cardiac rehabilitation literature who have focused on anxiety, depression and general measures of quality of life.


A meta-analytical review.


Computer databases were searched from January 1945 to May 2005 to identify relevant literature. A total of 36 studies consisting of 4765 subjects were included. Cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs were consistently associated with increases in energy and decreases in fatigue. The magnitude of the effect was moderately large (mean delta 0.51; 95% confidence interval 0.42-0.61) but was heterogeneous and modified by features of the research design. Comparison of effect sizes in cardiac rehabilitation studies concurrently measuring energy/fatigue, anxiety and depression suggest that exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programs have larger effects on feelings of energy and fatigue compared with anxiety and depression.


This review quantifies the potential benefit of cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs on feelings of energy and fatigue, and suggests that cardiac rehabilitation researchers and practitioners may benefit from examining, and perhaps even focusing on, feelings of energy and fatigue as an important outcome variable. A greater understanding of the effect of cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs on feelings of energy and fatigue will be reached when more true experiments are conducted thereby avoiding the primary limitation of the literature reviewed; that is, the frequent use of non-experimental research designs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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