Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease
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Exercise training is a clinically proven, cost-effective, primary intervention that delays and in many cases prevents the health burdens associated with many chronic diseases. However, the precise type and dose of exercise needed to accrue health benefits is a contentious issue with no clear consensus recommendations for the prevention of inactivity-related disorders and chronic diseases. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training (HIT) can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations in healthy individuals and diseased populations, at least when compared on a matched-work basis. While less well studied, low-volume HIT can also stimulate physiological remodelling comparable to moderate-intensity continuous training despite a substantially lower time commitment and reduced total exercise volume. Such findings are important given that 'lack of time' remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation. Here we review some of the mechanisms responsible for improved skeletal muscle metabolic control and changes in cardiovascular function in response to low-volume HIT. We also consider the limited evidence regarding the potential application of HIT to people with, or at risk for, cardiometabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes. Finally, we provide insight on the utility of low-volume HIT for improving performance in athletes and highlight suggestions for future research.
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