The effect of 12 weeks of combined upper- and lower-body high-intensity interval training on muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults

Christopher Hurst, Kathryn Weston, Matthew Weston

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Background: High-intensity interval training (HIT) can impact cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness simultaneously, yet protocols typically focus on lower-body exercise. For older adults however, performing activities of daily living requires upper- and lower-body fitness. Aims: To assess the effects of combined upper- and lower-body HIT on fitness in adults aged >50 years. Methods: Thirty-six adults (50-81y; 21 male) were assigned via minimisation to either HIT (n=18) or a no-exercise control group (CON, n=18) following baseline assessment of leg extensor muscle power, handgrip strength, cardiorespiratory fitness (predicted VO2max) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The HIT group completed two training sessions per week for 12-weeks, performing a combination of upper-, lower- and full-body exercises using a novel hydraulic resistance ergometer. Data were analysed via ANCOVA with probabilistic inferences made about the clinical relevance of observed effects. Results: All participants completed the intervention with mean (82 ± 6%HRmax) and peak (89 ± 6%HRmax) exercise heart rates confirming a high-intensity training stimulus. Compared with CON, HIT showed possibly small beneficial effects for dominant leg power (10.5%; 90% confidence interval 2.4 to 19.4%), non-dominant leg power (9.4%; 3.3 to 16.0%) and non-dominant handgrip strength (6.3%; 1.2 to 11.5%) while the intervention effect was likely trivial (5.9%; 0.5 to 11.5%) for dominant handgrip strength. There was a likely small beneficial effect for predicted VO2max (8.4%; 1.8 to 15.4%) and small-moderate improvements across several domains of HRQoL. Conclusion: Combined upper- and lower-body HIT has small clinically relevant beneficial effects on muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalAging clinical and experimental research
Early online date26 Jul 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jul 2018

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