Low on Exercise Motivation? Try Short, Intense Reps Instead of a Continuous, Moderate Workout

According to a study published this past January in PLoS One, individuals report greater enjoyment of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) compared to moderate intensity continuous (MICT) exercise due to its time efficiency and constantly changing stimulus. Investigators examined differences in enjoyment, affect, and perceived exertion between MICT and HIIT. Twelve recreationally active men and women (age=29.5±10.7 years, VO2max=41.4±4.1mL/kg/min, body mass index [BMI]=23.1±2.1kg/m2) performed a VO2max test on a cycle ergometer to determine appropriate workloads for subsequent exercise bouts. Each subject returned for two additional exercise trials, performing either HIIT (eight 1 min bouts of cycling at 85% maximal workload (Wmax) with 1 min of active recovery between bouts) or MICT (20 min of cycling at 45% Wmax) in randomized order. During exercise, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), affect, and blood lactate concentration (BLa) were measured. Additionally, the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES) was completed after exercise. Results showed higher enjoyment in response to HIIT versus MICT. Eleven of 12 participants (92%) preferred HIIT to MICT. However, affect was lower (p<0.05) and HR, RPE, and BLa were higher (p<0.05) in HIIT versus MICT. Although HIIT is more physically demanding than MICT, study subjects seemed to prefer HIIT because it’s quicker and more interesting/engaging than MICT workouts.

Source: Hum JS, Parsons G, Whittle T, Astorino TA. High-intensity interval training elicits higher enjoyment than moderate intensity continuous exercise. PLoS One. 2017 Jan 11;12(1):e0166299.

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