Exercise, Cardiometabolic Health and Reproduction (EXCAR) Research Group

Exercise, Cardiometabolic Health and Reproduction (EXCAR) Research Group

The Exercise, Cardiometabolic Health and Reproduction (EXCAR) Research Group aims to develop exercise training strategies to prevent lifestyle related diseases. We have a special focus on exercise as medicine in order to improve fertility and pregnancy outcome.

EXCAR was established in January 2015 with a grant from the Liaison Committee between the Central Norway Regional Health Authority and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The group is headed by Trine Moholdt.



Improving reproductive function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome by high intensity interval training (IMPROV-IT)

Running on treadmill

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder among women of reproductive age. In this study we assess whether regular exercise training can improve menstruation frequency and metabolic health in PCOS patients.

This trial started in June 2015. From 2017, the trial was extended to also include participants in Melbourne, Australia, in collaboration with the Australian Catholic University. We expect to enroll the last participants in January 2019.

For more information, contact Sofie Buurgaard Lionett

Increasing success rate after assisted fertilisation by exercise in women with high BMI (FertilEX)

This was a study where we assessed whether 10 weeks of high intensity interval exercise prior to assisted fertilisation would improve the pregnancy rate of women with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher.

This trial is completed.

Publications from the FertilEX trial:

Exercise prior to assisted fertilization in overweight and obese women (FertilEX): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Women undergoing assisted fertilisation and high-intensity interval training: a pilot randomised controlled trial 

Exercise Training in Pregnancy for overweight/obese women (the ETIP trial)

IVF under a microscope-The aim of this project was to determine effects of exercise training in pregnancy among women with a pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) of  28 kg/m2 or more. This was a randomised controlled trial where 91 participants were randomly allocated to an exercise group or a control group. The recruitment of participants to the ETIP trial ended in 2015. Some of the results from this trial are published (see below). We are currently analysing the remaining data material from the ETIP trial. A follow-up data collection in the children born to the participating women is on-going.

Publications from the ETIP trial:  

Exercise Training in Pregnancy for obese women (ETIP): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Exercise Training and Weight Gain in Obese Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial (ETIP Trial)

Effect of supervised exercise training during pregnancy on neonatal and maternal outcomes among overweight and obese women. Secondary analyses of the ETIP trial: A randomised controlled trial

Cardiac function in newborns of obese women and the effect of exercise during pregnancy. A randomized controlled trial

Exercise training during pregnancy reduces circulating insulin levels in overweight/obese women postpartum: secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial (the ETIP trial)

Can high intensity interval training be a safe and efficient strategy to improve insulin sensitivity in pregnancy?

This was a randomised, cross-over trial where the aim was to compare the effects of moderate intensity continuous exercise versus high intensity interval training on glyceamic control in pregnancy. Additionally, we assessed the foetal well-being during exercise. The data collection in this study has been completed and we are currently analyzing the data.  


Comparing two different interval training programmes

Graphs showing 10x1 and 4x4 intervall trainingWe are comparing two different interval training programmes with women aged 18-45 years.

The participants will be matched on age, height and weight with participants of another study. The exercise period is 16 weeks with 3 sessions per week. The study will be conducted at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, NTNU, and has been approved by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics.

Exergaming as high intensity interval training

Physical inactivity is a global problem and many individuals do not fulfill the current recommendations for physical activity. We have several on-going projects aiming to investigate whether playing an active video game (exergame) can be an alternative exercise strategy for children, adolescents and adults.

We are measuring the exercise intensity during such exergaming, where the participants in the study first do a maximum effort exercise test with measurements of their maximum oxygen uptake. Then, we are comparing their oxygen uptake during the exergaming to their maximum level to assess the relative intensity of the exergaming.

In two other studies, we are investigating whether having free access to this exergame will influence the body composition, physical activity and fitness level in adults and adolescents.

For more information, contact Jonathan Berg

Publication from the Exergame-prosjekts:

Exergaming can be an innovative way of enjoyable high-intensity interval training




Changes in physical activity and mortality

Using data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT), we are investigating associations between physical activity and mortality among individuals with and without coronary heart disease. In those with coronary heart disease, there seems to be an «obesity paradox», with better survival for individuals who are overweight or obese compared to their normal-weight counterparts. We have assessed the associations between BMI, physical activity and mortality among individuals with coronary heart disease, and also how changes in BMI and physical activity over time influence mortality. We are now studying the associations between changes in physical activity throughout life and mortality among individuals without coronary heart disease


Interaction of Physical Activity and Body Mass Index on Mortality in Coronary Heart Disease: Data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study

Sustained Physical Activity, Not Weight Loss, Associated With Improved Survival in Coronary Heart Disease

Associations between intake of potatoes, health and mortality

PotatoesUsing data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT), we are investigating associations between the intake of boiled potatoes and cardiovascular disease risk factor and between intake of potatoes and mortality.


Jonathan Berg
PhD Candidate
Kirsti Krohn Garnæs
Ida Almenning Kiel
PhD Candidate
Sofie Buurgaard Lionett
PhD Candidate
Trine Moholdt



Main national collaborators:

  • Siv Mørkved, Professor, Department of Public Health, NTNU
  • Eszter Vanky, Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children’s and Women’s Health, NTNU
  • Liv Bente Romundstad, Post doctor, Department of Public Health, NTNU
  • Vidar von Düring, Chief physician, Fertility Section, St.Olav’s University Hospital
  • Sigrun Kjøtrød, Associate professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children’s and Women’s Health, NTNU
  • Siri Ann Nyrnes, Researcher, Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, NTNU
  • Charlotte Björk Ingul, Researcher, Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, NTNU

Main international collaborators:

  • Helen Jones, Reader, School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  • John Hawley, Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Steen Larsen, Assistant Professor, Section of Systems Biology Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark



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