Perceptual Responses to High- and Moderate-Intensity Interval Exercise in Adolescents

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Abstract

Purpose

Continuous high-intensity exercise is proposed to evoke unpleasant sensations as predicted by the dual-mode theory and may negatively impact on future exercise adherence. Previous studies support unpleasant sensations in affective responses during continuous high-intensity exercise, but the affect experience during high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) involving brief bursts of high-intensity exercise separated by low-intensity activity is poorly understood in adolescents. We examined the acute affective, enjoyment, and perceived exertion responses to HIIE compared with moderate-intensity interval exercise (MIIE) in adolescents.

Methods

Thirteen adolescent boys (mean ± SD: age, 14.0 ± 0.5 yr) performed two counterbalanced exercise conditions: 1) HIIE: 8 × 1-min work intervals at 90% maximal aerobic speed; and 2) MIIE: between 9 and 12 × 1-min work intervals at 90% ventilatory threshold where the number of intervals performed were distance-matched to HIIE. HIIE and MIIE work intervals were interspersed with 75 s active recovery at 4 km·h−1. Affect, enjoyment, and RPE were recorded before, during, and after exercise.

Results

Affect responses declined in both conditions but the fall was greater in HIIE than MIIE (P < 0.025, effect size [ES], 0.64 to 0.81). Affect remained positive at the end-work interval for both conditions (MIIE, 2.62 ± 1.50; HIIE, 1.15 ± 2.08 on feeling scale). No enjoyment differences were evident during HIIE and MIIE (P = 0.32), but HIIE elicited greater postexercise enjoyment compared with MIIE (P = 0.01, ES = 0.47). RPE was significantly higher during HIIE than MIIE across all work intervals (all P < 0.03, ES > 0.64).

Conclusions

Despite elevated RPE, HIIE did not elicit prominent unpleasant feelings as predicted by the dual-mode theory and was associated with greater postexercise enjoyment responses than MIIE. This study demonstrates the feasibility of the application of HIIE as an alternative form of physical activity in adolescents.

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