Is High Intensity Interval Training a Good Exercise Option for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury?
By: Ellie Moore
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT has become widely popular in the last few years. People of all ages are participating in HIIT and many businesses have bought into the popularity, branding it as an addictive quick exercise that has more benefits than moderate exercise. Although the popularity is on the rise and researchers are taking advantage of this; there is not a lot out there on the effects of this type of exercise in individuals with physical disabilities, especially individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). In an article written by Astorino and Thum from California State University, they aimed to examine the within session changes of oxygen uptake, heart rate, and blood lactate concentration between acute sessions of HIIT and Sprint Interval Training (SIT) compared to Moderate Intensity Continuous Exercise Training (MICT) (2018). Nine consistently active men and women with spinal cord injury of C2 or below and at least 12 months post injury participated in this study. For this study, HIIT training consisted of eight short efforts (60 seconds each) of 70% of the participant’s wattage peak separated by 90 seconds of active recovery between each effort. SIT training consisted of eight 30 second “all out” efforts from the participant at 105% of the participant’s wattage peak with 2 minute active recovery between each effort. MICT consisted of 25 minutes of continuous exercise at 45% of the participant’s peak wattage. Each exercise session was completed on a wall mounted arm ergometer. Astorino and Thum found that both HIIT and Sit prompt higher peak cardiorespiratory, metabolic, and perceptual strain responses in comparison to MICT (2018). They also found that each participant preferred either HIIT or SIT and no one preferred MICT. In conclusion, HIIT training or SIT training completed on an arm ergometer in active individuals with SCI elicit higher cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses and tend to be more enjoyable compared to continuous exercise. Interval training is here to stay and research shows that individuals without a disability as well as individuals with SCI can gain benefits from it.
Todd Anthony Astorino & Jacob S. Thum (2018) Within-session responses to high-intensity interval training in spinal cord injury, Disability and Rehabilitation, 40:4, 444-449, DOI:10.1080/09638288.2016.1260648