Effects of eight weeks of high-intensity interval training on blood glucose control, endothelial function, and visceral fat in obese adults
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in the United States and type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity lead to cardiovascular disease. Obese adults are more susceptible to CVD compared to their non-obese counterparts. Exercise training leads to large reductions in the risk of CVD and T2D. Recent evidence suggests high-intensity interval training (HIT) may yield similar or superior benefits in a shorter amount of time compared to traditional continuous exercise training. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of HIT to continuous (CONT) exercise training for the improvement of endothelial function, glucose control, and visceral adipose tissue. Seventeen obese men (N=9) and women (N=8) were randomized to eight weeks of either HIT (N=9, age=34 years, BMI=37.6 kg/m2) or CONT (N=8, age=34 years, BMI=34.6 kg/m2) exercise 3 days/week for 8 weeks. Endothelial function was assessed via flow-mediated dilation (FMD), glucose control was assessed via continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), and visceral adipose tissue and body composition was measured with an iDXA. Incremental exercise testing was performed at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks. There were no changes in weight, fat mass, or visceral adipose tissue measured by the iDXA, but there was a significant reduction in body fat that did not differ by group (46±6.3 to 45.4±6.6%, P=0.025). HIT led to a significantly greater improvement in FMD compared to CONT exercise (HIT: 5.1 to 9.0%; CONT: 5.0 to 2.6%, P=0.006). Average 24-hour glucose was not improved over the whole group and there were no group x time interactions for CGM data (HIT: 103.9 to 98.2 mg/dl; CONT: 99.9 to 100.2 mg/dl, P>0.05). When statistical analysis included only the subjects who started with an average glucose at baseline > 100 mg/dl, there was a significant improvement in glucose control overall, but no group x time interaction (107.8 to 94.2 mg/dl, P=0.027). Eight weeks of HIT led to superior improvements in endothelial function and similar improvements in glucose control in obese subjects at risk for T2D and CVD. HIT was shown to have comparable or superior health benefits in this obese sample with a 36% lower total exercise time commitment.