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Effects of High-Intensity Interval Walking Training on Physical Fitness and Blood Pressure in Middle-Aged and Older People

      OBJECTIVE

      To examine whether high-intensity interval walking training increased thigh muscle strength and peak aerobic capacity and reduced blood pressure more than moderate-intensity continuous walking training.

      PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS

      From May 18, 2004, to October 15, 2004 (5-month study period), 60 men and 186 women with a mean ± SD age of 63±6 years were randomly divided into 3 groups: no walking training, moderate-intensity continuous walking training, and high-intensity interval walking training. Participants in the moderate-intensity continuous walking training group were instructed to walk at approximately 50% of their peak aerobic capacity for walking, using a pedometer to verify that they took 8000 steps or more per day for 4 or more days per week. Those in the high-intensity interval walking training group, who were monitored by accelerometry, were instructed to repeat 5 or more sets of 3-minute low-intensity walking at 40% of peak aerobic capacity for walking followed by a 3-minute high-intensity walking above 70% of peak aerobic capacity for walking per day for 4 or more days per week. Isometric knee extension and flexion forces, peak aerobic capacity for cycling, and peak aerobic capacity for walking were all measured both before and after training.

      RESULTS

      The targets were met by 9 of 25 men and 37 of 59 women in the no walking training group, by 8 of 16 men and 43 of 59 women in the moderate-intensity continuous walking training group, and by 11 of 19 men and 31 of 68 women in the high-intensity interval walking training group. In the high-intensity interval walking training group, isometric knee extension increased by 13%, isometric knee flexion by 17%, peak aerobic capacity for cycling by 8%, and peak aerobic capacity for walking by 9% (all, P<.001), all of which were significantly greater than the increases observed in the moderate-intensity continuous walking training group (all, P<.01). Moreover, the reduction in resting systolic blood pressure was higher for the high-intensity interval walking training group (P=.01).

      CONCLUSION

      High-intensity interval walking may protect against age-associated increases in blood pressure and decreases in thigh muscle strength and peak aerobic capacity.
      1RM (one repetition maximum), BMI (body mass index), DBP (diastolic blood pressure), HR (heart rate), RPE (rate of perceived exertion), SBP (systolic blood pressure), VO2peak (peak aerobic capacity)
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      Linked Article

      • Exercise: A Walk in the Park?
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 82Issue 7
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          In this issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings,1 Nemoto et al address the benefits of walking regimens and in so doing reflect a broad movement in the exercise literature and the health intervention community. Emphasis is moving away from in-termittent sweat-drenched bouts of arduous exercise to more frequent walking, whether in the park, at work, or at home.
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