Bopp, C. M., Gottschall, J. S., & Hastings, B. (2013). Comparative effects of moderate-intensity, continuous training versus high-intensity interval training in the reduction of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 857.

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"While rates of cardiovascular disease are on the decline, cardiovascular is still the number one killer of Americans. The ACSM recently released a position stand with the stated goal of providing guidance to professionals who counsel and prescribe individualized exercise to apparently healthy individuals. This document recommends 30-60-minutes per day of moderate intensity (3-5.9 METs) exercise five or more days of the week, 20-60 minutes of vigorous intensity ( 6 METs) exercise 3 or more days of the week or some combination of the two. What remains unclear is the role that exercise intensity plays in the reduction of cardiovascular disease risk factors."

This study determined the difference in risk factor reduction between vigorous-intensity exercise, in the form of high-intensity interval training, and a standard fitness protocol when the volume of exercise is held constant. Healthy adults (N = 84; age range 20-65 years) completed a 6-week group fitness intervention. Ss were randomly assigned to one of two groups; the first was a high-intensity interval training program, while the second was a moderate-intensity training program. Ss completed five hours of fitness classes per week. ACSM risk factors (blood pressure, body composition, fasting plasma glucose, fasting lipids) were assessed pre- and post-training.

Both groups experienced risk-factor reduction but high-intensity interval training resulted in greater reductions than the moderate-intensity training group. Glucose, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, body mass index, waist circumference, and systolic blood pressure were reduced significantly more in the high-intensity interval training group. The one exception was diastolic blood pressure which fell less in the high-intensity interval training group than it did in the moderate-training intensity group.

Implication. High-intensity interval training has a significantly greater effect on the reduction of cardiovascular disease risk factors than does moderate-intensity training.

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