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High-intensity interval training for improving health-related fitness in adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. S A Costigan1,
  2. N Eather1,
  3. R C Plotnikoff1,
  4. D R Taaffe2,3,4,
  5. D R Lubans1
  1. 1Faculty of Education & Arts, Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Education, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Edith Cowan University Health and Wellness Institute, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia, Australia
  4. 4School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr David R Lubans, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308, Australia; David.Lubans{at}


Background High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be a feasible and efficacious strategy for improving health-related fitness in young people. The objective of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the utility of HIIT to improve health-related fitness in adolescents and to identify potential moderators of training effects.

Methods Studies were considered eligible if they: (1) examined adolescents (13–18 years); (2) examined health-related fitness outcomes; (3) involved an intervention of ≥4 weeks in duration; (4) included a control or moderate intensity comparison group; and (5) prescribed high-intensity activity for the HIIT condition. Meta-analyses were conducted to determine the effect of HIIT on health-related fitness components using Comprehensive Meta-analysis software and potential moderators were explored (ie, study duration, risk of bias and type of comparison group).

Results The effects of HIIT on cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition were large, and medium, respectively. Study duration was a moderator for the effect of HIIT on body fat percentage. Intervention effects for waist circumference and muscular fitness were not statistically significant.

Conclusions HIIT is a feasible and time-efficient approach for improving cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition in adolescent populations.

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular
  • Body composition
  • Physical fitness

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