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The influence of high-intensity compared with moderate-intensity exercise training on cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in colorectal cancer survivors: a randomised controlled trial

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Abstract

Purpose

Following colorectal cancer diagnosis and anti-cancer therapy, declines in cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition lead to significant increases in morbidity and mortality. There is increasing interest within the field of exercise oncology surrounding potential strategies to remediate these adverse outcomes. This study compared 4 weeks of moderate-intensity exercise (MIE) and high-intensity exercise (HIE) training on peak oxygen consumption (V̇O2peak) and body composition in colorectal cancer survivors.

Methods

Forty seven post-treatment colorectal cancer survivors (HIE = 27 months post-treatment; MIE = 38 months post-treatment) were randomised to either HIE [85–95 % peak heart rate (HRpeak)] or MIE (70 % HRpeak) in equivalence with current physical activity guidelines and completed 12 training sessions over 4 weeks.

Results

HIE was superior to MIE in improving absolute (p = 0.016) and relative (p = 0.021) V̇O2peak. Absolute (+0.28 L.min−1, p < 0.001) and relative (+3.5 ml.kg−1.min−1, p < 0.001) V̇O2 peak were increased in the HIE group but not the MIE group following training. HIE led to significant increases in lean mass (+0.72 kg, p = 0.002) and decreases in fat mass (−0.74 kg, p < 0.001) and fat percentage (−1.0 %, p < 0.001), whereas no changes were observed for the MIE group. There were no severe adverse events.

Conclusions

In response to short-term training, HIE is a safe, feasible and efficacious intervention that offers clinically meaningful improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition for colorectal cancer survivors.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

HIE appears to offer superior improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in comparison to current physical activity recommendations for colorectal cancer survivors and therefore may be an effective clinical utility following treatment.

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Correspondence to James L. Devin.

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Funding

This study was funded by Queensland Health (Remserv) (project number 2013001802).

Jenkins D, Skinner T, Bolam K, Chambers S, Owens J and Gatford J. (2013–2014). What exercise is the most effective in improving the health of colorectal cancer survivors? Queensland Health (Remserv), AU$19,000

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Human Ethics Committee of the University of Queensland and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

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Written and informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Devin, J.L., Sax, A.T., Hughes, G.I. et al. The influence of high-intensity compared with moderate-intensity exercise training on cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in colorectal cancer survivors: a randomised controlled trial. J Cancer Surviv 10, 467–479 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11764-015-0490-7

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