Respiratory and Perceptual Responses to High-Intensity Interval Exercise in Obese Adults

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Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise





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Purpose Although high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) has emerged as an attractive alternative to continuous exercise (CE), the effects of HIIE on ventilatory constraints and dyspnea on exertion have not been studied in obese adults, and thus, tolerability of HIIE in obese adults is unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in respiratory and perceptual responses between HIIE and CE in nonobese and obese adults. Methods Ten nonobese (5 men; 24.1 ± 6.2 yr; body mass index, 23.0 ± 1.3 kg·m−2) and 10 obese (5 men; 24.2 ± 3.8 yr; body mass index, 37 ± 4.6 kg·m−2) adults participated in this study. Respiratory and perceptual responses were assessed during HIIE (eight 30-s intervals at 80% maximal work rate, with 45-s recovery periods) and two 6-min sessions of CE, completed below and above ventilatory threshold (Vth). Results Despite similar work rate, HIIE was completed at a higher relative intensity in obese when compared with nonobese participants (68.8% ± 9.4% vs 58.9% ± 5.6% maximal oxygen uptake, respectively; P = 0.01). Expiratory flow limitation and/or dynamic hyperinflation was present during HIIE in 50% of the obese but in none of the nonobese participants. Ratings of perceived breathlessness were highest during HIIE (5.3 ± 2.4), followed by CEaboveVth (2.5 ± 1.6), and CEbelowVth (0.9 ± 0.7; P < 0.05) in obese participants. Unpleasantness associated with breathlessness was higher in obese (4.2 ± 3.0) when compared with nonobese participants (0.6 ± 1.3; P = 0.005) during HIIE. Conclusions HIIE, when prescribed relative to maximal work rate, is associated with greater ventilatory constraints and dyspnea on exertion when compared with CE in obese adults. CE may be more tolerable when compared with HIIE for obese adults.


Exercise Science | Public Health



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