Supervised vs home exercise to treat intermittent claudication

Intermittent claudication is a diagnosis for muscle pain (ache, cramp, numbness, or sense of fatigue) typically in the calf muscle, which occurs during exercise and is relieved by a short period of rest.

Researchers at Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, in Oklahoma City, compared home-based exercise to a supervised exercise program.

First, the details.

  • 119 patients were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • Home-based exercise: intermittent walking to nearly maximal claudication pain for 12 weeks
    • Supervised exercise: as above but supervised
    • Usual-care
  • Patients wore a step activity monitor during each exercise session.
  • Claudication onset time and peak walking time obtained from a treadmill exercise test were recorded as the primary outcomes.
  • Daily ambulatory cadences (measure or beat of movement) measured during a 7-day period were also recorded.

And, the results.

  • Adherence to home-based and supervised exercise was similar and exceeded 80%.
  • Both exercise programs significantly delayed claudication onset time and increased peak walking time.
  • Only home-based exercise increased daily average cadence significantly.
  • There were no changes in the usual care group.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “A home-based exercise program… has high adherence and is efficacious in improving claudication measures similar to a standard supervised exercise program. Furthermore, home-based exercise appears more efficacious in increasing daily ambulatory activity in the community setting than supervised exercise.”

The authors tell us this is the first well-designed study to compare supervised vs home exercise for intermittent claudication. The findings suggest reconsidering the role of supervised exercise in these patients.

4/21/11 22:04 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.