Exercise training for intermittent claudication

Mary M. McDermott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Objective The objective of this study was to provide an overview of evidence regarding exercise therapies for patients with lower extremity peripheral artery disease (PAD). Methods This manuscript summarizes the content of a lecture delivered as part of the 2016 Crawford Critical Issues Symposium. Results Multiple randomized clinical trials demonstrate that supervised treadmill exercise significantly improves treadmill walking performance in people with PAD and intermittent claudication symptoms. A meta-analysis of 25 randomized trials demonstrated a 180-meter increase in treadmill walking distance in response to supervised exercise interventions compared with a nonexercising control group. Supervised treadmill exercise has been inaccessible to many patients with PAD because of lack of medical insurance coverage. However, in 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a decision memorandum to support health insurance coverage of 12 weeks of supervised treadmill exercise for patients with walking impairment due to PAD. Recent evidence also supports home-based walking exercise to improve walking performance in people with PAD. Effective home-exercise programs incorporate behavioral change interventions such as a remote coach, goal setting, and self-monitoring. Supervised treadmill exercise programs preferentially improve treadmill walking performance, whereas home-based walking exercise programs preferentially improve corridor walking, such as the 6-minute walk test. Clinical trial evidence also supports arm or leg ergometry exercise to improve walking endurance in people with PAD. Treadmill walking exercise appears superior to resistance training alone for improving walking endurance. Conclusions Supervised treadmill exercise significantly improves treadmill walking performance in people with PAD by approximately 180 meters compared with no exercise. Recent evidence suggests that home-based exercise is also effective and preferentially improves over-ground walking performance, such as the 6-minute walk test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1612-1620
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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