High intensity interval training versus moderate intensity continuous training for people with interstitial lung disease: protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Leona M. Dowman, Anthony K. May, Catherine J. Hill, Janet Bondarenko, Lissa Spencer, Norman R. Morris, Jennifer A. Alison, James Walsh, Nicole S.L. Goh, Tamera Corte, Ian Glaspole, Daniel C. Chambers, Christine F. McDonald, Anne E. Holland

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Interstitial lung disease is a debilitating condition associated with significant dyspnoea, fatigue, and poor exercise tolerance. Pulmonary rehabilitation is an effective and key intervention in people with interstitial lung disease. However, despite the best efforts of patients and clinicians, many of those who participate are not achieving clinically meaningful benefits. This assessor-blinded, multi-centre, randomised controlled trial aims to compare the clinical benefits of high intensity interval exercise training versus the standard pulmonary rehabilitation method of continuous training at moderate intensity in people with fibrotic interstitial lung disease. Methods: Eligible participants will be randomised to either a standard pulmonary rehabilitation group using moderate intensity continuous exercise training or high intensity interval exercise training. Participants in both groups will undertake an 8-week pulmonary rehabilitation program of twice-weekly supervised exercise training including aerobic (cycling) and strengthening exercises. In addition, participants in both groups will be prescribed a home exercise program. Outcomes will be assessed at baseline, upon completion of the intervention and at six months following the intervention by a blinded assessor. The primary outcome is endurance time on a constant work rate test. Secondary outcomes are functional capacity (6-min walk distance), health-related quality of life (Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire (CRQ), St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis specific version (SGRQ-I), breathlessness (Dyspnoea 12, Modified Medical Research Council Dyspnoea Scale), fatigue (fatigue severity scale), anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), physical activity level (GeneActiv), skeletal muscle changes (ultrasonography) and completion and adherence to pulmonary rehabilitation. Discussion: The standard exercise training strategies used in pulmonary rehabilitation may not provide an optimal exercise training stimulus for people with interstitial lung disease. This study will determine whether high intensity interval training can produce equivalent or even superior changes in exercise performance and symptoms. If high intensity interval training proves effective, it will provide an exercise training strategy that can readily be implemented into clinical practice for people with interstitial lung disease. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov Registry (NCT03800914). Registered 11 January 2019, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03800914 Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12619000019101. Registered 9 January 2019, https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=376050&isReview=true.

Original languageEnglish
Article number361
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021


  • Endurance training
  • Exercise
  • High-Intensity interval training
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Interstitial lung diseases
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Rehabilitation

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