An updated systematic review and meta-analysis of home-based exercise programs for individuals with intermittent claudication

S A Pymer, S Ibeggazene, J Palmer, G A Tew, L Ingle, I C Chetter, Amy Elizabeth Harwood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Supervised exercise programs (SEP) are effective for improving walking distance in patients with intermittent claudication (IC) but provision and uptake rates are suboptimal. Access to such programs has also been halted by the Coronavirus pandemic. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive overview of the evidence for home-based exercise programs (HEP). Methods: This review was conducted in according with the published protocol and PRISMA guidance. Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro, and Cochrane CENTRAL were searched for terms relating to HEP and IC. Randomized and nonrandomized trials that compared HEP with SEP, basic exercise advice, or no exercise controls for IC were included. A narrative synthesis was provided for all studies and meta-analyses conducted using data from randomized trials. The primary outcome was maximal walking distance. Subgroup analyses were performed to consider the effect of monitoring. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane tool and quality of evidence via GRADE. Results: We included 23 studies with 1907 participants. Considering the narrative review, HEPs were inferior to SEPs which was reflected in the meta-analysis (mean distance [MD], 139 m; 95% confidence interval [CI], 45-232 m; P = .004; very low quality of evidence). Monitoring was an important component, because HEPs adopting this strategy were equivalent to SEPs (MD, 8 m; 95% CI, –81 to 97; P = .86; moderate quality of evidence). For HEPs vs basic exercise advice, narrative review suggested HEPs can be superior, although not always significantly so. For HEPs vs no exercise controls, narrative review and meta-analysis suggested HEPs were potentially superior (MD, 136 m; 95% CI, –2 to 273 m; P = .05; very low quality of evidence). Monitoring was also a key element in these comparisons. Other elements such as appropriate frequency (≥3× a week), intensity (to moderate-maximum pain), duration (20 progressing to 60 minutes) and type (walking) of exercise were important, as was education, self-regulation, goal setting, feedback, and action planning. Conclusions: When SEPs are unavailable, HEPs are recommended. However, to elicit maximum benefit they should be structured, incorporating all elements of our evidence-based recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2076-2085.e20
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery
Issue number6
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Vascular Surgery. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Vascular Surgery, 74:6 (2021)
DOI: 10.1016/j.jvs.2021.03.063

© 2021, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


Funding Information: S.P. and J.P. are funded by a University of Hull PhD Scholarship. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


  • Exercise
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'An updated systematic review and meta-analysis of home-based exercise programs for individuals with intermittent claudication'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this