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High-intensity intermittent exercise and cardiovascular and autonomic function

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The effect of 12 weeks of high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) on cardiac, vascular, and autonomic function of young males was examined.


Thirty-eight young men with a BMI of 28.7 ± 3.1 kg m−2 and age 24.9 ± 4.3 years were randomly assigned to either an HIIE or control group. The exercise group underwent HIIE three times per week, 20 min per session, for 12 weeks. Aerobic power and a range of cardiac, vascular, and autonomic measures were recorded before and after the exercise intervention.


The exercise, compared to the control group, recorded a significant reduction in heart rate accompanied by an increase in stroke volume. For the exercise group forearm vasodilatory capacity was significantly enhanced, P < 0.05. Arterial stiffness, determined by pulse wave velocity and augmentation index, was also significantly improved, after the 12-week intervention. For the exercise group, heart period variability (low- and high-frequency power) and baroreceptor sensitivity were significantly increased.


High-intensity intermittent exercise induced significant cardiac, vascular, and autonomic improvements after 12 weeks of training.

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We would like to thank Chau Tran, Joshua Lane, Roger Burrell, and Lucas Webb for help with data collection. This study was supported by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust (Grant # RM06599).

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None of the authors had a personal or financial conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Mehrdad Heydari.

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Heydari, M., Boutcher, Y.N. & Boutcher, S.H. High-intensity intermittent exercise and cardiovascular and autonomic function. Clin Auton Res 23, 57–65 (2013).

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