Effect of Novel, School-Based High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) on Cardiometabolic Health in Adolescents

Low-volume high-intensity interval training holds promise for cardiometabolic health promotion in adolescents, but sustainable interventions must be practical and engaging. We examined the effect of a school-based multi-activity low-volume high-intensity interval training intervention on adolescents’ cardiometabolic health.


In an exploratory controlled before-and-after design, 101 adolescents (mean age ± standard deviation [SD] 14.0 ± 0.3 years) were recruited from four schools; two were designated as intervention sites (n = 41), and two as control (n = 60). The intervention comprised 4 to 7 repetitions of 45 s maximal effort exercise (basketball, boxing, dance and soccer drills) interspersed with 90-s rest, thrice weekly for 10 weeks. Outcomes were non-fasting blood lipids and glucose, waist circumference, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, resting blood pressure, physical activity, twenty-metre shuttle-run test performance and carotid artery intima-media thickness. The difference in the change from baseline (intervention minus control) was estimated for each outcome. Using magnitude-based inferences, we calculated the probability that the true population effect was beneficial, trivial, and harmful against a threshold for the minimum clinically important difference of 0.2 between-subject SDs.


Mean (± SD) attendance for the intervention (expressed as percentage of available intervention sessions [n = 30]) was 77 ± 13%. Post-intervention, there were likely beneficial effects for triglycerides (-26%; 90% confidence interval -46% to 0%), waist circumference (-3.9 cm; -6.1 cm to -1.6 cm) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (+16 min; -5 to 38 min), and a possibly beneficial effect for twenty-metre shuttle-run test performance (+5 shuttles; -1 to 11 shuttles) in intervention participants (vs controls). The role of elevated triglycerides and waist circumference in cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome development underlines the importance of our findings. We also demonstrated that school-based low-volume high-intensity interval training can be delivered as intended, thus representing a novel and scalable means of improving aspects of adolescents’ cardiometabolic health.


PLoS One. 2016 Aug 3;11(8):e0159116. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159116. eCollection 2016. Effect of Novel, School-Based High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) on Cardiometabolic Health in Adolescents: Project FFAB (Fun Fast Activity Blasts) – An Exploratory Controlled Before-And-After Trial. Weston KL1, Azevedo LB1, Bock S2, Weston M3, George KP4, Batterham AM1. 1Health and Social Care Institute, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom. 2School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom. 3School of Social Sciences, Business & Law, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom. 4Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moore’s University, Liverpool, United Kingdom.


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– Artemus Ward