Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Frontiers in Sports and Active Living






Exercise Medicine Research Institute




Swedish Cancer Society (Grant Nos. 150841, 160483)

Swedish Research Council (Grant No. KDB/9514)

Nordic Cancer Union (2015)

Oncology Department Foundations Research Fund in Uppsala (2016, 2017)


Bjørke, A. C. H., Buffart, L. M., Raastad, T., Demmelmaier, I., Stenling, A., & Berntsen, S. (2022). Exploring moderators of the effect of high versus low-to-moderate intensity exercise on cardiorespiratory fitness during breast cancer treatment–analyses of a subsample from the Phys-Can RCT. Frontiers in sports and active living, 4, 902124.



The results from the physical training and cancer randomized controlled trial (Phys-Can RCT) indicate that high intensity (HI) strength and endurance training during (neo-)adjuvant cancer treatment is more beneficial for cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF, measured as peak oxygen uptake [VO2peak]) than low-to-moderate intensity (LMI) exercise. Adherence to the exercise intervention and demographic or clinical characteristics of patients with breast cancer undergoing adjuvant treatment may moderate the exercise intervention effect on VO2peak. In this study, the objective was to investigate whether baseline values of VO2peak, body mass index (BMI), time spent in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA), physical fatigue, age, chemotherapy treatment, and the adherence to the endurance training moderated the effect of HI vs. LMI exercise on VO2peak.

Materials and Methods

We used data collected from a subsample from the Phys-Can RCT; women who were diagnosed with breast cancer and had a valid baseline and post-intervention VO2peak test were included (n = 255). The exercise interventions from the RCT included strength and endurance training at either LMI, which was continuous endurance training at 40 – 50 % of heart rate reserve (HRR), or at HI, which was interval training at 80–90% of HRR, with similar exercise volume in the two groups. Linear regression analyses were used to investigate moderating effects using a significance level of p < 0.10. Statistically significant interactions were examined further using the Johnson–Neyman (J-N) technique and regions of significance (for continuous variables) or box plots with adjusted means of post-intervention VO2peak (for binary variables).


Age, as a continuous variable, and adherence, dichotomized into < or > 58% based on median, moderated the effect of HI vs. LMI on CRF (B = −0.08, 95% CI [−0.16, 0.01], pinteraction = 0.06, and B = 1.63, 95% CI [−0.12, 3.38], pinteraction = 0.07, respectively). The J-N technique and regions of significance indicated that the intervention effect (HI vs. LMI) was positive and statistically significant in participants aged 61 years or older. Baseline measurement of CRF, MVPA, BMI, physical fatigue, and chemotherapy treatment did not significantly moderate the intervention effect on CRF.


Women with breast cancer who are older and who have higher adherence to the exercise regimen may have larger effects of HI exercise during (neo-)adjuvant cancer treatment on CRF.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.