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New Study Suggests HIIT May Improve Surgery Outcomes

06 Jul, 2023 F.J. Thomas

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Sarasota, FL ( – Multiple studies have clearly shown the benefits of exercise. According to the CDC, Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) represents the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to the muscles during sustain physical activity. CRF has been shown to improve cognitive function and lower the risk of certain diseases. Additionally, some studies have suggested that CRF can improve the postsurgical outcomes.

One potential contributor to the effect of CRF on postsurgical outcomes is that in the process of healing after surgery, the body increases oxygen consumption by up to 50 percent. This the body’s response to inflammation, and part of the healing process. Around 30 percent of patients, and up to 50 percent of frail patients have postoperative complications.

Part of the complexity in dealing with surgical candidates it the limited time frame to address CRF levels.

One potential way to improve CRF levels that does not require a lot of time is through High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is a method of short bursts of intense exercise at maximum levels followed by low intensity recovery levels. The goal of HIIT is to reach approximately 80 percent of the maximum heart rate, followed by active recovery. Studies have suggested that around 100 minutes of HIIT can significantly improve CRT levels.

Researchers from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, asked the question of whether preoperative HIIT was associated with improved CRF and improved surgical outcomes. The researchers reviewed 12 studies involving 832 patients that had undergone different types of major surgery. The surgical procedures included liver, lung, colorectal, urological, and mixed major abdominal surgeries.

Patients underwent exercise sessions that ranged from 6 to 40 sessions, with an estimated average duration of 160 minutes. Trained physiologists or physiotherapists supervised most sessions referenced in the studies, and one study included a clearly defined home exercise regime.

An increase in the maximum rate of oxygen consumption, equating to around 10 percent, was reported in 8 studies that included 627 patients. For clinical outcomes, the researchers identified a 53 percent reduction in postoperative complications following HIIT. Although the researchers considered the finding insignificant, a reduction of 3 days in the overall length of stay was also noted. Additionally, researchers noted a slight improvement in the physical component of quality of life scores at around 6 weeks after surgery, however the researchers speculated that was due primarily to an improved CRF.

Overall, the researchers concluded that the results of their analysis indicated HIIT may improve patient outcomes, and should be considered as a tool for prehabilitation programs.

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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