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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 10, pp 2259–2268 | Cite as

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

  • Kathryn Holloway
  • Denise Roche
  • Peter Angell
Original Article

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.

Keywords

High-intensity Exercise training Cardiac function Vascular structure Cardiovascular risk 

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

Notes

Acknowledgements

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

Author contributions

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.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health SciencesLiverpool Hope UniversityLiverpoolUK

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