Preoperative High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Enhancing Surgical Outcomes through Improved Cardiorespiratory Fitness

July 23rd, 2023

By John Patterson

Staff Writer for Wake Up World

Enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) has been recognized as a key factor in improving both physical and cognitive function, as well as reducing the risk of complications in surgical patients. In recent years, preoperative high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has emerged as a promising approach to optimize CRF and enhance surgical outcomes.

A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis, conducted by Kari Clifford et al. and published in JAMA Network Open, provides valuable insights into the efficacy of preoperative HIIT in improving CRF and reducing postoperative complications among adults undergoing major surgery. The study emphasizes the need for further research to refine HIIT protocols and maximize its benefits in prehabilitation programs.

Improving Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Surgical Outcomes

The systematic review encompassed 12 studies involving a total of 832 patients, examining the association between preoperative HIIT and changes in CRF and surgical outcomes. The meta-analysis demonstrated compelling evidence supporting the effectiveness of HIIT in improving preoperative CRF and reducing postoperative complications. Notably, HIIT was found to be significantly associated with increased peak oxygen consumption (V?o2 peak), improved performance in the 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT), higher anaerobic threshold, and increased peak power output. Additionally, patients who underwent preoperative HIIT experienced a substantial reduction in postoperative complications compared to those receiving standard care.

Lead author Kari Clifford highlights the significance of the findings, stating, “The results of our meta-analysis suggest that preoperative HIIT may be beneficial for surgical populations by improving exercise capacity and reducing postoperative complications. Integrating HIIT into prehabilitation programs before major surgery can have a profound impact on patient outcomes.”

Implications for Prehabilitation Programs

Prehabilitation programs, aimed at optimizing patients’ health and fitness before surgery, have gained increasing recognition as a means to enhance surgical outcomes. The study’s findings strongly advocate for the inclusion of HIIT as a core component of prehabilitation protocols. HIIT, with its ability to rapidly improve CRF, offers a time-efficient and effective strategy for preoperative patients.

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By elevating exercise capacity, HIIT equips patients with the physiological resilience necessary to meet the heightened oxygen demands during surgical recovery. The meta-analysis provides substantial evidence supporting the integration of HIIT into preoperative care pathways.

However, the study also highlights the need for further research to refine HIIT protocols and establish standardized guidelines tailored to specific surgical populations. The observed heterogeneity in exercise protocols and study outcomes underscores the importance of optimizing training programs to maximize the therapeutic potential of HIIT. Well-designed prospective studies are necessary to enhance the quality of evidence and validate the effectiveness of HIIT interventions.


The systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by Clifford et al. provide compelling evidence supporting the positive association between preoperative HIIT, enhanced CRF, and reduced postoperative complications among patients undergoing major surgery. The study emphasizes the potential benefits of integrating HIIT into prehabilitation programs and its role in improving surgical outcomes. By enhancing exercise capacity and reducing complications, HIIT holds the potential to revolutionize the field of preoperative care and significantly improve patient well-being. However, further research is essential to refine HIIT protocols, address methodological heterogeneity, and establish evidence-based guidelines for its implementation in preoperative settings.

As the field of prehabilitation continues to evolve, incorporating HIIT as a valuable tool has the potential to transform the landscape of surgical care, leading to improved patient outcomes and enhanced overall quality of care.


Association of Preoperative High-Intensity Interval Training With Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Postoperative Outcomes Among Adults Undergoing Major Surgery – 

About the author:

John Patterson is an avid writer and researcher who delves into the latest scientific research. With an insatiable curiosity, he translates complex concepts into accessible narratives, allowing readers to embark on a journey of discovery. Through his work, John bridges the gap between experts and the public, igniting curiosity and inspiring meaningful conversations about scientific breakthroughs.

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