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The effects of high intensity interval training on cancer

by | Nov 4, 2021 | Exercising & Lifestyle

So many of us are already affected by cancer in our daily lives, either personally, or via those closest to us.

There have been countless studies undertaken surrounding the disease, many of which indicate the benefits that exercise provides, as both a preventative measure, and as an accompaniment to treatment.  Exercise is hailed as being a key aspect of cancer survivor health improvements, as well as helping to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.

The growing benefits of High Intensive Interval Training (HIIT) are now being explored for those looking to prevent and recover from many forms of cancer.

In 2019, an American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) study provided strong accreditation to “evidence-based guidelines for exercise testing, prescription and delivery in cancer survivors”. There is an increase of evidence that the addition of high intensity interval training is superior at increasing aerobic capacity, and that HIIT may be the, “time efficient mode of training for cancer survivors at any point during or after treatment”.

Consistent long term physical activity, for example 2-3 sessions of HIIT a week, at peak heart rate for the individual, are deemed to have a significant effect on a person’s health, and is linked to a reduced risk for several types of cancer. This is due to increased improvement of the immune system and its function, and decreased levels of hormones related to cancer development. A Journal of Physiology study suggests that even after one HIIT session, there may be significant decrease in the growth of colon cancer cells. Researchers found that there was a rise in specific indicators immediately after exercise, hypothesizing this having the biggest effect of cell growth reduction. James Devin, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Queensland states that, “during exercise, muscles become a primary source for releasing inflammatory cytokines markers, known as myokines. We know that higher intensity exercise promotes a much greater myokine response compared to moderate intensity exercise”.

ACSM states that, “Based on the currently available evidence, HIIT training is safe, tolerable, and effective as part of a comprehensive cancer rehabilitation program. Cancer survivors who are relatively healthy after treatment can add intensity to their rehabilitation/training programs to be time efficient.”

Here at HITZone, we pride ourselves at helping our members to achieve increased Aliveness, Vitality and Wellbeing, and are thrilled to see the recognised effects of HIIT in the battle against cancer.

Links to further reading:

American College of Sports Medicine

Exercise and Cancer

HIIT for Breast Cancer Survivors

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