More efficient, perhaps, but at what price? Pleasure and enjoyment responses to high-intensity interval exercise in low-active women with obesity


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Abstract

Objectives:Fewer than 1.5% of women with obesity in the USA are physically active at recommended levels. High-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) has been proposed as a possible solution to the problem of low activity, based on the dual promise of accelerating the accrual of benefits while reducing the time commitment. However, concerns have been raised about the appeal and sustainability of HIIE. The purpose of this study was to compare during-exercise affective valence and post-exercise enjoyment in response to a bout of HIIE and a longer, isocaloric bout of moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICE).Design:Within-subjects experiment.Methods:Low-active women with obesity (N = 24) completed one bout of HIIE (3-min warm-up, four 3-min intervals of recumbent cycling at 115% of Watts at the ventilatory threshold, four 2-min periods of active recovery at 85% of Watts at the ventilatory threshold, 5-min cool-down) and one bout of MICE (3-min warm-up, 25 min of recumbent cycling at 90% of Watts at the ventilatory threshold, 5-min cool-down) in counterbalanced order. The Feeling Scale (FS) was administered during exercise and the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES) was administered after cool-down.Results:Differences were found for both FS (condition by time interaction: p < 0.001, η2 = 0.27) and PACES (p = 0.04, d = −0.38), with both outcomes favoring MICE.Conclusions:The lower pleasure and enjoyment associated with HIIE compared to MICE underscore the importance of considering not only physiological adaptations but also the appeal and sustainability of HIIE for low-active women with obesity.HighlightsHigh-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) is promoted as a solution to the problem of “lack of time”.Compared affective valence and enjoyment in HIIE and moderate continuous exercise in low-active women with obesity.Significant differences were found for both affective valence and enjoyment, with both outcomes favoring MICE.The differences were substantial and could be consequential for exercise adherence.

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