Comparison of High Intensity Interval Training and Moderate Intensity Training on Aerobic Capacity of College Students

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Dr. Maureen Dunn, Hope College

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Research suggests that high intensity interval training is more effective at improving maximum oxygen uptake (V02max) than moderate intensity endurance exercise. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that high intensity interval training will produce greater improvements in aerobic capacity when compared to moderate endurance exercise. Fourteen healthy, college age students were assigned to comparable training groups; a high intensity interval training group (HIIT) or a moderate intensity training group (MIT). HIIT consisted of 10 x one-minute stationary cycling intervals at 90-100% age-predicted max heart rate (%HRmax) each followed by one minute of active rest. MIT consisted of continuous stationary cycling at 75% age- predicted heart rate max. Twelve 20-minute sessions were completed by both groups over a 6 week period. Responses in VO2max, heart rate, and body composition were examined. Training group assignment resulted in a significant difference in average heart rate (p = 0.000) and %HRmax (p = 0.000) between training groups. Training did not have a significant effect on changes in body composition for either group, yet the HIIT group trended toward decreases in percent body fat. A trend suggested VO2max improvements in both training groups, with the HIIT group appearing to have greater improvement, yet these differences were not significant. These trends suggest the possibility of HIIT training to provide superior improvements in aerobic capacity and body composition, when compared to MIT training, yet they indicate that further research on the subject is needed to determine the proper protocol.

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