This study aimed to compare the effects of traditional dancing with formal exercise training as related to functional and cardiovascular benefits and motivation in patients with chronic heart failure. Fifty-one Greek male patients aged 67.1±5.5 years with chronic heart failure of New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II–III, took part in this eight-month study. The participants were separated at random to either training with Greek traditional dances (group A, n=18), formal exercise training (group B, n=16) or a sedentary control group (group C, n=17). At entry and the end of the study all patients underwent cardiopulmonary exercise testing, functional ability assessment and quality of life evaluations. The Intrinsic Motivation Inventory was also used to assess participants’ subjective experience. After training group A displayed increased peak oxygen consumption by 33.8% (19.5 vs. 26.1 ml/kg/min, p<0.05) and B by 32.3% (19.5 vs. 25.8 ml/kg/min, p<0.05), maximal treadmill tolerance by 48.5% (p<0.05) and by 46.4% (p<0.05), and a decreased Slope of expired minute ventilation for carbon dioxide output (VE/VCO2) slope by 18% (p<0.05) and 19.5% (p<0.05), respectively. Trained patients showed significant improvement in the quality of life indices. Intrinsic Motivation Inventory was increased only in group A by 26.2% (3.08 vs. 3.87, p<0.05).
The study concluded that exercise training in chronic heart failure patients with Greek traditional dances resulted in functional and cardiovascular benefits comparable to formal exercise training and to an increased level of motivation.