Purpose/Objectives: To examine peak volume of oxygen consumption (VO2peak) changes after a high- or low-intensity exercise intervention.
Design: Experimental trial comparing two randomized intervention groups with control.
Setting: An exercise clinic at a university in Australia.
Sample: 87 prostate cancer survivors (aged 47–80 years) and 72 breast cancer survivors (aged 34–76 years).
Methods: Participants enrolled in an eight-week exercise intervention (n = 84) or control (n = 75) group. Intervention participants were randomized to low-intensity (n = 44, 60%–65% VO2peak, 50%–65% of one repetition maximum [1RM]) or high-intensity (n = 40, 75%–80% VO2peak, 65%–80% 1RM) exercise groups. Participants in the control group continued usual routines. All participants were assessed at weeks 1 and 10. The intervention groups were reassessed four months postintervention for sustainability.
Main Research Variables: VO2peak and self-reported physical activity.
Findings: Intervention groups improved VO2peak similarly (p = 0.083), and both more than controls (p < 0.001). The high-intensity group maintained VO2peak at follow-up, whereas the low-intensity group regressed (p = 0.021). The low-intensity group minimally changed from baseline to follow-up by 0.5 ml/kg per minute, whereas the high-intensity group significantly improved by 2.2 ml/kg per minute (p = 0.01). Intervention groups always reported similar physical activity levels.
Conclusions: Higher-intensity exercise provided more sustainable cardiorespiratory benefits than lower-intensity exercise.
Implications for Nursing: Survivors need guidance on exercise intensity, because a high volume of low-intensity exercise may not provide sustained health benefits.