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Time-efficient and computer-guided sprint interval exercise training for improving health in the workplace: a randomised mixed-methods feasibility study in office-based employees
Metcalfe RS, Atef H, Mackintosh K, McNarry M, Ryde G, Hill DM, Vollaard NBJ
BMC Public Health 2020 Mar 12;20(313):Epub
clinical trial
6/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: No; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

BACKGROUND: The efficacy of high-intensity interval training (HIT) as a time-efficient exercise strategy for beneficially modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease has repeatedly been demonstrated in controlled laboratory settings. However, the effectiveness of HIT in an unsupervised workplace setting has not been investigated. The objective of this study was to use mixed methods to investigate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of a short-duration, high-intensity exercise intervention (REHIT) when applied unsupervised in a workplace setting. METHODS: Twenty-five office-workers (mean +/- SD age 47 +/- 9 y, BMI 27.5 +/- 4.4 kg/m2, VO2max 28 +/- 7 mL/kg/min) completed a 6-week REHIT intervention unsupervised in their workplace (n = 13, 6 men), or acted as a no-intervention control (n = 12, 6 men). The intervention consisted of 2 sessions/week of low-intensity (approximately 25 W) cycling interspersed with 2 'all-out' sprints, increasing in duration from 10 to 20 s per sprint over the 6 weeks (total time-commitment 8:40 min per session). VO2max was assessed pre- and post-training, whilst questionnaire-based measures of exercise enjoyment, self-efficacy, and acceptability were completed post-training. Eight participants also completed post-intervention semi-structured interviews. RESULTS: VO2max significantly improved in the exercise group (2.25 +/- 0.75 L/min versus 2.42 +/- 0.82 L/min; +7.4%) compared to the control group (2.22 +/- 0.72 L/min versus 2.17 +/- 0.74 L/min; -2.3%; time x intervention interaction effect p < 0.01). Participants considered the REHIT intervention acceptable and enjoyable (PACES 89 +/- 17 out of 119) and were confident in their ability to continue to perform REHIT (7.8 +/- 1.2 out of 9). Qualitative data revealed that REHIT offered a time-efficient opportunity to exercise, that was perceived as achievable, and which encouraged highly valued post-exercise outcomes (eg, progress towards health/fitness benefits). CONCLUSIONS: REHIT could be implemented as a feasible, effective and acceptable exercise intervention in a workplace setting, with a total time-commitment of < 20 min/week. Consideration of certain psycho-social factors and behaviour-change techniques may ensure adherence to the REHIT programme in the long term. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study was registered on on 07/05/2019 (registration NCT03941145).

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