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Exercise intensity and cardiovascular health outcomes after 12 months of football fitness training in women treated for stage I-III breast cancer: results from the football fitness After Breast Cancer (ABC) randomized controlled trial

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PURPOSE: To examine the exercise intensity and impact of 12 months of twice-weekly recreational football training on cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), blood pressure (BP), resting heart rate (HRrest), body fat mass, blood lipids, inflammation, and health-related quality of life in women treated for early-stage breast cancer (BC).

METHODS: Sixty-eight women who had received surgery for stage I-III BC and completed adjuvant chemo- and/or radiation therapy within 5 years were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to a Football Fitness group (FFG, n = 46) or a control group (CON, n = 22). Football Fitness sessions comprised a warm-up, drills and 3-4 × 7 min of small-sided games (SSG). Assessments were performed at baseline, 6 months and 12 months. Outcomes were peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), blood pressure (BP), HRrest, total body fat mass, and circulating plasma lipids and hs-CRP, and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF36). Intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses were performed using linear mixed models. Data are means with SD or 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS: Adherence to training in participants completing the 12-months follow-up (n = 33) was 47.1% (22.7), and HR during SSG was ≥80% of HRmax for 69.8% (26.5) of total playing time. At baseline, VO2peak was 28.5 (6.4) and 25.6 (5.9) ml O2/kg/min in FFG and CON, respectively, and no significant changes were observed at 6- or 12 months follow-up. Systolic BP (SBP) was 117.1 (16.4) and 116.9 (14.8) mmHg, and diastolic BP (DBP) was 72.0 (11.2) and 72.4 (8.5) mmHg in FFG and CON, respectively, at baseline, and a 9.4 mmHg decrease in SBP in CON at 12 months resulted in a between-group difference at 12 months of 8.7 mmHg (p = .012). Blood lipids and hs-CRP were within the normal range at baseline, and there were no differences in changes between groups over the 12 months. Similarly, no differences between groups were observed in HRrest and body fat mass at 6- and12-months follow-up. A between-group difference in mean changes of 23.5 (0.95-46.11) points in the role-physical domain of the SF36 survey favored FFG at 6 months CONCLUSION: Football Fitness training is an intense exercise form for women treated for breast cancer, and self-perceived health-related limitations on daily activities were improved after 6 months. However, 1 year of Football Fitness training comprising 1 weekly training session on average did not improve CRF, BP, blood lipids, fat mass, or HRrest.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: The trial was registered at with identifier NCT03284567.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)792-799
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Blood lipids, Blood pressure, Breast cancer rehabilitation, Fitness, Soccer, VO max, VO2 max

ID: 60694484