High-intensity interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training in adults with Crohn's disease: a pilot randomised controlled trial

BMC Gastroenterol. 2019 Jan 29;19(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s12876-019-0936-x.


Background: This study assessed the feasibility and acceptability of two common types of exercise training-high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT)-in adults with Crohn's disease (CD).

Methods: In this mixed-methods pilot trial, participants with quiescent or mildly-active CD were randomly assigned 1:1:1 to HIIT, MICT or usual care control, and followed up for 6 months. The HIIT and MICT groups were offered three exercise sessions per week for the first 12 weeks. Feasibility outcomes included rates of recruitment, retention, outcome completion, and exercise attendance. Data were collected on cardiorespiratory fitness (e.g., peak oxygen uptake), disease activity, fatigue, quality of life, adverse events, and intervention acceptability (via interviews).

Results: Over 17 months, 53 patients were assessed for eligibility and 36 (68%) were randomised (47% male; mean age 36.9 [SD 11.2] years); 13 to HIIT, 12 to MICT, and 11 to control. The exercise session attendance rate was 62% for HIIT (288/465) and 75% for MICT (320/429), with 62% of HIIT participants (8/13) and 67% of MICT participants (8/12) completing at least 24 of 36 sessions. One participant was lost to follow-up. Outcome completion rates ranged from 89 to 97%. The mean increase in peak oxygen uptake, relative to control, was greater following HIIT than MICT (2.4 vs. 0.7 mL/kg/min). There were three non-serious exercise-related adverse events, and two exercise participants experienced disease relapse during follow-up.

Conclusions: The findings support the feasibility and acceptability of the exercise programmes and trial procedures. A definitive trial is warranted. Physical exercise remains a potentially useful adjunct therapy in CD. [ID: ISRCTN13021107].

Keywords: Exercise therapy; Inflammatory bowel disease; Randomised controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Crohn Disease / complications
  • Crohn Disease / psychology
  • Crohn Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Endurance Training / adverse effects
  • Endurance Training / methods*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / adverse effects
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life