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Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2012 Dec;15(6):995-1003. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivs403. Epub 2012 Sep 12.

Does the mode of exercise influence recovery of functional capacity in the early postoperative period after coronary artery bypass graft surgery? A randomized controlled trial.

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Westmead Private Physiotherapy Services, NSW, Australia.



The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of moderate-intensity stationary cycling and walking exercise programmes in the early postoperative period after first-time coronary artery bypass graft surgery.


In this prospective trial, 64 patients (57 men, 7 women, mean age = 66 ± 9 years) performed twice daily, moderate-intensity exercise sessions, of 10-min duration, from postoperative day 3 until discharge from hospital. Patients were randomly assigned to stationary cycling or walking exercise intervention groups. Preoperative and discharge functional exercise capacity and health-related quality of life were assessed using 6-min walk and cycle assessments and the SF-36 version 2.0 questionnaire. Compliance with exercise was calculated as the proportion of scheduled exercise sessions completed.


There were no significant differences between intervention groups at hospital discharge for 6-min walk distance (cyclists: 402 ± 93 m vs walkers: 417 ± 86 m, P = 0.803), 6-min cycle work (cyclists: 15.0 ± 6.4 kJ vs walkers: 14.0 ± 6.3 kJ, P = 0.798) or health-related quality of life. There was no significant difference between intervention groups for postoperative length of hospital stay (P = 0.335). Compliance rates for intervention groups were cyclists: 185/246 (75%) scheduled exercise sessions completed vs walkers: 199/242 (82%) scheduled exercise sessions completed (P = 0.162).


Stationary cycling provides a well-tolerated and clinically effective alternative to walking in the early postoperative period after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The optimal frequency, intensity and duration of exercise in the early postoperative period require further investigation. (Clinical trials register: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry; identification number: ACTRN12608000359336;

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