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Evaluating the progressive cardiovascular health benefits of short-term high-intensity interval training

Abstract

Purpose

High-intensity training is recognised as a time-efficient way of improving aerobic fitness. However, there is a lack of consensus regarding the temporal nature of adaptation response and which peripheral and cardiac changes occur using the same exercise stimulus and protocol. Therefore, this study aimed to evaluate the progression of vascular and cardiac changes over a 6-week training period.

Methods

Twelve healthy males (age 21 ± 2 years; 42.5 ± 8.3 ml min−1 kg−1) participated in a high-intensity training programme consisting of 1-min sprints, interspersed with 2 min active recovery, 3 days/week for 6 weeks on a cycle ergometer. Cardiac, vascular, blood lipids and VO2max measurements were taken at 0, 3 and 6 weeks and compared against a participant-matched control group (age 21 ± 2 years; 37.7 ± 8.3 ml min−1 kg−1).

Results

There was a significant improvement in VO2max (42.5 ± 8.3–47.4 ± 8.5 ml min−1 kg−1; p = 0.009) in the training group and a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure (8%) from 0 to 6 weeks (p = 0.025). There was a small yet significant decrease in ejection fraction and increased end-systolic volume in both groups over time (p = 0.01) with no significant interaction effect (p > 0.05). A between-group difference in peak velocity of early diastolic mitral annular motion was also observed (p = 0.01). No improvements were seen in blood lipid profiles, central arterial stiffness and cardiometabolic risk score.

Conclusions

Six weeks of high-intensity training increases aerobic fitness and is enough to stimulate initial reductions in peripheral pressure, but not sufficient to elicit structural and functional cardiac changes, reduce arterial stiffness or lower CV risk.

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Abbreviations

A:

Peak velocity of late transmitral flow

A’:

Peak velocity of diastolic mitral annular motion

Alx:

Augmentation index

AP:

Central augmented pressure

a-VDO2 :

Arterial–venous difference

BMI:

Body mass index

COmax :

Maximal cardiac output

CRF:

Cardiorespiratory fitness

CVD:

Cardiovascular disease

DBP:

Diastolic blood pressure

DP:

Central aortic diastolic pressure

E:

Peak velocity of early diastolic transmitral flow

E’:

Peak velocity of early diastolic mitral annular motion

EF:

Ejection fraction

FBG:

Fasting blood glucose

HDL-C:

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol

HIIT:

High-intensity interval training

HR:

Heart rate

IVSd:

Interventricular septum thickness at end diastole

LDL-C:

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

LV:

Left ventricle

LVEDV:

Left ventricular end-diastolic volume

LVESV:

Left ventricular end-systolic volume

LVIDd:

Left ventricular internal diameter end diastole

LVIDs:

Left ventricular internal diameter end systole

LVPWd:

Left ventricular posterior wall thickness at end diastole

MAP:

Mean arterial pressure

NO:

Nitric oxide

PP:

Central aortic pulse pressure

PWV:

Pulse wave velocity

S’:

Peak velocity of systolic mitral annular motion

SBP:

Systolic blood pressure

SIT:

Sprint interval training

SP:

Central aortic systolic pressure

SV:

Stroke volume

SVmax :

Maximal stroke volume

TC:

Total cholesterol

TG:

Triglycerides

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Mark Bell and Sean Muirhead for their contribution to the exercise programme.

Author information

KH, DR and PA conceived and designed research. KH, DR and PA conducted experiments. KH, PA were involved in data analysis. KH and PA wrote the manuscript, with DR acting as advisor.

Correspondence to Kathryn Holloway.

Additional information

Communicated by Anni Vanhatalo.

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Holloway, K., Roche, D. & Angell, P. Evaluating the progressive cardiovascular health benefits of short-term high-intensity interval training. Eur J Appl Physiol 118, 2259–2268 (2018) doi:10.1007/s00421-018-3952-6

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Keywords

  • High-intensity
  • Exercise training
  • Cardiac function
  • Vascular structure
  • Cardiovascular risk