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Although the amount of evidence demonstrating the beneficial effects of ischemic preconditioning (IPC) on exercise performance is increasing, conclusions about its efficacy cannot yet be drawn. Therefore, the purposes of this review were to determine the effect of IPC on exercise performance and identify the effects of different IPC procedures, exercise types, and subject characteristics on exercise performance. The analysis comprised 19 relevant studies from 2000 to 2015, 15 of which were included in the meta-analyses. Effect sizes (ES) were calculated as the standardized mean difference. Overall, IPC had a small beneficial effect on exercise performance (ES = 0.43; 90% confidence interval [CI], 0.28 to 0.51). The largest ES were found for aerobic (ES = 0.51; 90% CI, 0.35 to 0.67) and anaerobic (ES = 0.23; 90% CI, -0.12 to 0.58) exercise. In contrast, an unclear effect was observed in power and sprint performance (ES = 0.16; 90% CI, –0.20 to 0.52). In conclusion, IPC can effectively enhance aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance.

The authors are with the Center for Health and Sport Sciences, Santa Catarina State University, Florianópolis, Brazil.

Address author correspondence to Fabrizio Caputo at fabrizio.caputo@udesc.br.