European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 116, Issue 3, pp 601–609 | Cite as

Inflammatory, lipid, and body composition responses to interval training or moderate aerobic training

  • David J. ElmerEmail author
  • Richard H. Laird
  • Matthew D. Barberio
  • David D. Pascoe
Original Article



The goal of this study was to compare the effect of work- and duration-matched interval training (HIIT) versus moderate aerobic endurance training (ET) on acute and chronic inflammation, along with changes in the lipid profile, to determine which may be more beneficial for improving cardiovascular health.


Twelve sedentary males (maximal oxygen consumption = 41.6 ± 5.4 mL kg−1 min−1) completed 8 weeks of aerobic interval training or moderate aerobic training, with variables including C-reactive protein (CRP) for chronic inflammation, interleukin-6 (IL-6) response for the acute inflammatory response, plasma concentrations of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TRG), and low-density lipoprotein, and body composition measured before and after the training period.


HIIT decreased plasma TRG from 92 ± 32 to 61 ± 12 mg dL−1, which was significantly different from ET, while ET improved the TC:HDL ratio from 4.67 ± 0.85 to 4.07 ± 0.96 and reduced the percentage of android fat from 36.78 ± 9.60 to 34.18 ± 11.39 %. Neither training protocol resulted in an acute IL-6 response on the first nor the last day of exercise, a change in chronic levels of CRP, or a significant increase in HDL, despite previous research finding these changes.


It seems that in order to maximize the health outcomes from physical activity, both HIIT and ET should be included. The acute inflammatory response and reductions in chronic inflammation resulting from exercise training may not be as common as the literature suggests.


Inflammation Aerobic interval training Body composition Cholesterol Heart disease 



Analysis of variance


Coronary heart disease


C-reactive protein


Endurance training




High-density lipoprotein


High-intensity interval training




Low-density lipoprotein


Total cholesterol


Plasma triglyceride concentration


Maximal oxygen consumption per minute

\(V_{{V{\text{O}}_{{2{ {\rm max} }}} }}\)

Maximal aerobic running velocity



The authors would like to thank Khalil Lee and Scott Kennedy for their assistance in collecting data for this study and the participants for their consistent effort.

Compliance with ethical standards


Funding and resources for this study were provided by the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Elmer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard H. Laird
    • 2
  • Matthew D. Barberio
    • 3
  • David D. Pascoe
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of KinesiologyBerry CollegeMount BerryUSA
  2. 2.Department of Exercise Science and Physical EducationMcDaniel CollegeWestminsterUSA
  3. 3.Center for Genetic Medicine ResearchChildren’s National Medical CenterWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.School of KinesiologyAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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