With clinical trials often demonstrating cardiovascular benefits of exercise training in at-risk populations, researchers investigated whether a supervised programme could be beneficial for individuals with prematurity-related cardiovascular impairments as assessed by functional cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) parameters.
They recruited eight pre-term and six healthy controls of 18-29 years of age who took part in a 14-week exercise programme of aerobic and resistance training three times weekly.
The authors reported that while heart structure and function were worse in pre-term participants at the start of the study, they were similar in pre-term and control participants after the exercise programme.
"Until now we did not know if this [cardiovascular impairments associated with premature birth] was permanent or amenable to improvement," said Professor Anne Monique Nuyt, neonatologist and co-principal investigator. "Now, for the first time, we have shown how to make preterm hearts function as well as their peers. No drugs were required - just a 14-week exercise programme."