The Effects of Chronic High Intensity Interval Training on Cardiometabolic Health in Individuals With Spinal Cord Injury
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Abstract Advancements in medicine and post-injury care has allowed for the extended life expectancy following spinal cord injuries (SCI). However, such advancements have led to a paradigm shift in the prevalence of secondary health complications from renal and pulmonary to cardiovascular and metabolic. In the able-bodied literature, accumulating evidence for high intensity interval training (HIIT) has shown that this time efficient, heart safe style of exercise may have advantages over moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) as a means to reduce cardiometabolic risk. The effectiveness of HIIT in an SCI population has yet to be explored. The current study examined the effectiveness of the “5 by 1” HIIT protocol over a 6-week timeframe, consisting of three supervised sessions per week in an SCI population. Outcome measures included VO2peak, cholesterol, triglycerides, waist circumference, blood pressure, pro an anti-inflammatory cytokine, and adipokines leptin and adiponectin. Results of the current study suggest that this protocol is an effective means to significantly improve aerobic fitness, however the intervention did induce significant metabolic change. Limitations such as small sample size (N=7) and the relatively short intervention duration may have limited these results. Further research focused on the effectiveness of HIIT in an SCI population is warranted to explore whether the metabolic benefit from HIIT may be dependent on a minimum baseline fitness level or power output that some individuals may not possess. In conclusion, the “5 by 1” HIIT protocol proved to be an effective means of improving aerobic capacity and therefore represents an alternative to the currently suggested MICT.