Purpose The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of low-volume high-intensity interval training and continuous low to moderate intensity training on quality of life, functional capacity and cardiovascular disease risk factors in cancer survivors. Methods Cancer survivors within 24 months post-diagnosis were randomly assigned into the low-volume high-intensity interval training group (n = 8) or the continuous low to moderate intensity training group (n = 8) group for 36 sessions (12 weeks) of supervised exercise. The low-volume high-intensity interval training (LVHIIT) group performed 7 × 30 s intervals (≥ 85% maximal heart rate) and the continuous low to moderate intensity training (CLMIT) group performed continuous aerobic training for 20 min (≤ 55% maximal heart rate) on a stationary bike or treadmill. Results Significant improvements (time) were observed for 13 of the 23 dependent variables (ES 0.05-0.61, p ≤ 0.05). An interaction effect was observed for six minute walk test (18.53% [32.43-4.63] ES 0.50, p ≤ 0.01) with the LVHIIT group demonstrating greater improvements. Conclusion These preliminary findings suggest that both interventions can induce improvements in quality of life, functional capacity and selected cardiovascular disease risk factors. The LVHIIT program was well tolerated by the participants and our results suggest that LVHIIT is the preferred modality to improve fitness (6MWT); it remains to be seen which intervention elicits the most clinically relevant outcomes for patients. A larger sample size with a control group is required to confirm the significance of these findings.