Low-frequency exercise training improves cardiovascular fitness and strength during treatment for breast cancer: a single-arm intervention study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractAerobic and resistance exercise during and after cancer treatment are important for health-related outcomes, however treatment-specific barriers may inhibit adherence. We explored the effect of lower-frequency exercise training on fitness, body composition, and metabolic markers (i.e. glucose and lipids) in a group of recently diagnosed breast cancer patients. Fifty-two females ≥ 18 years with stage I–IIIB breast cancer were instructed to attend 2 cardiovascular and strength training sessions/week over 12 weeks, but program length was expanded as needed to accommodate missed sessions. Pre- and post-intervention, we measured: (1) cardiovascular fitness, (2) isometric strength, (3) body composition (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), and (4) fasting glucose, insulin, c-peptide, and lipids. Pre-intervention, participants were 53 ± 10 years old (mean ± SD) and overweight (BMI: 27.5 ± 5.4 kg m−2, 40.1 ± 6.5% body fat). Forty participants completed the program over a median 20 weeks (range: 13–32 weeks, median frequency: 1.2 sessions/week), over which predicted VO2peak improved by 7% (2.2[0.1–4.4] mL/kg/min) (delta[95% CI]), and strength increased by 7–9% (right arm: 2.3[0.1–4.5] N m; right leg: 7.9[2.1–13.7] N m; left leg: 7.8[1.9–13.7] N m). Body composition and metabolic markers were unchanged. An exercise frequency of 1.2 sessions/week stimulated significant improvements in fitness, and may represent a practical target for patients during active treatment.


  • Bell, Kirsten
  • Pfeiffer, Amanda G
  • Schmidt, Schuyler
  • Bos, Lisa
  • Russell, Caryl
  • Barnes, Tyler
  • Di Sebastiano, Katie M
  • Avrutin, Egor
  • Gibson, Marielle
  • Dubin, Joel A
  • Mourtzakis, Marina

publication date

  • November 23, 2021