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High-intensity interval training in haemodialysis patients: a pilot randomised controlled trial
  1. Birgitta Blakstad Nilsson1,2,
  2. Heidi Bunæs-Næss1,
  3. Elisabeth Edvardsen3,
  4. Aud-Eldrid Stenehjem4
  1. 1Department of Clinical Services, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Faculty of Health Sciences, Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Department of Nephrology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Birgitta Blakstad Nilsson; biblni{at}


Objectives Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) undergoing haemodialysis (HD) have significantly reduced cardiorespiratory fitness and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Our hypothesis was that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a feasible and safe form of exercise during HD and that HIIT would elicit greater change in cardiorespiratory fitness and HRQoL compared with moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT).

Methods Twenty patients were randomised to either HIIT (n=6), MICT (n=8) (two times a week within 22 weeks) or usual care (n=6). Feasibility was assessed by session attendance and adherence to exercise intensity. Safety was assessed by adverse event reporting. Efficacy was determined from change in peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), 6 min walk distance and a HRQoL questionnaire (the COOP-WONCA chart).

Results Eleven patients (55%) completed premeasurements and postmeasurements. The main reason for drop-out was due to kidney transplant during follow-up. The patients completed the same number of sessions in each group and adhered to the target heart rates after habituation. There were no adverse events. In the HIIT group, two of the three patients increased VO2peak by 46% and 53%, respectively. Three of the five patients in the MICT group increased their VO2peak by 6%, 18% and 36%, respectively.

Conclusions This pilot study demonstrated that HIIT is a feasible and safe exercise model for intradialytic exercise in patients undergoing HD. There might be a considerable potential of intradialytic HIIT in patients undergoing HD. Further studies with larger sample sizes are needed to determine if HIIT is an optimal approach in patients with ESRD undergoing HD.

Trial registration number NCT01728415.

  • exercise
  • intervention effectiveness
  • kidney
  • quality of life
  • feasibility

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in the study design and in the draft of this report.

  • Funding This work was supported with funding of salary to HB-N by The Norwegian Fund for Post-Graduate Training in Physiotherapy and the Norwegian Extra Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation.

  • Competing interests EE received salary from GlaxoSmithKline with no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics (2012/1459) and by the data inspectorate at Oslo University Hospital. Written and oral information was provided, and informed signed consent was required before participating.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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