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14.11.2017 | Clinical trial | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 1/2018

Adding high-intensity interval training to conventional training modalities: optimizing health-related outcomes during chemotherapy for breast cancer: the OptiTrain randomized controlled trial

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment > Ausgabe 1/2018
Sara Mijwel, Malin Backman, Kate A. Bolam, Anna Jervaeus, Carl Johan Sundberg, Sara Margolin, Maria Browall, Helene Rundqvist, Yvonne Wengström



Exercise training is an effective and safe way to counteract cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and to improve health-related quality of life (HRQoL). High-intensity interval training has proven beneficial for the health of clinical populations. The aim of this randomized controlled trial was to compare the effects of resistance and high-intensity interval training (RT–HIIT), and moderate-intensity aerobic and high-intensity interval training (AT–HIIT) to usual care (UC) in women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. The primary endpoint was CRF and the secondary endpoints were HRQoL and cancer treatment-related symptoms.


Two hundred and forty women planned to undergo chemotherapy were randomized to supervised RT–HIIT, AT–HIIT, or UC. Measurements were performed at baseline and at 16 weeks. Questionnaires included Piper Fatigue Scale, EORTC-QLQ-C30, and Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale.


The RT–HIIT group was superior to UC for CRF: total CRF (p = 0.02), behavior/daily life (p = 0.01), and sensory/physical (p = 0.03) CRF. Role functioning significantly improved while cognitive functioning was unchanged for RT–HIIT compared to declines shown in the UC group (p = 0.04). AT–HIIT significantly improved emotional functioning versus UC (p = 0.01) and was superior to UC for pain symptoms (p = 0.03). RT–HIIT reported a reduced symptom burden, while AT–HIIT remained stable compared to deteriorations shown by UC (p < 0.01). Only RT–HIIT was superior to UC for total symptoms (p < 0.01).


16 weeks of resistance and HIIT was effective in preventing increases in CRF and in reducing symptom burden for patients during chemotherapy for breast cancer. These findings add to a growing body of evidence supporting the inclusion of structured exercise prescriptions, including HIIT, as a vital component of cancer rehabilitation.

Trial registration Registration Number: NCT02522260.

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