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Effects of high-intensity interval training on cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies
  1. Romeo B Batacan Jr1,2,
  2. Mitch J Duncan3,
  3. Vincent J Dalbo1,4,
  4. Patrick S Tucker1,4,
  5. Andrew S Fenning1,2
  1. 1School of Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Centre for Physical Activity Studies, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Medicine & Public Health, Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, Queensland, Australia
  4. 4Clinical Biochemistry Laboratory, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew S Fenning, School of Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD 4702, Australia; a.fenning{at}


The current review clarifies the cardiometabolic health effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in adults. A systematic search (PubMed) examining HIIT and cardiometabolic health markers was completed on 15 October 2015. Sixty-five intervention studies were included for review and the methodological quality of included studies was assessed using the Downs and Black score. Studies were classified by intervention duration and body mass index classification. Outcomes with at least 5 effect sizes were synthesised using a random-effects meta-analysis of the standardised mean difference (SMD) in cardiometabolic health markers (baseline to postintervention) using Review Manager 5.3. Short-term (ST) HIIT (<12 weeks) significantly improved maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max; SMD 0.74, 95% CI 0.36 to 1.12; p<0.001), diastolic blood pressure (DBP; SMD −0.52, 95% CI −0.89 to −0.16; p<0.01) and fasting glucose (SMD −0.35, 95% CI −0.62 to −0.09; p<0.01) in overweight/obese populations. Long-term (LT) HIIT (≥12 weeks) significantly improved waist circumference (SMD −0.20, 95% CI −0.38 to −0.01; p<0.05), % body fat (SMD −0.40, 95% CI −0.74 to −0.06; p<0.05), VO2 max (SMD 1.20, 95% CI 0.57 to 1.83; p<0.001), resting heart rate (SMD −0.33, 95% CI −0.56 to −0.09; p<0.01), systolic blood pressure (SMD −0.35, 95% CI −0.60 to −0.09; p<0.01) and DBP (SMD −0.38, 95% CI −0.65 to −0.10; p<0.01) in overweight/obese populations. HIIT demonstrated no effect on insulin, lipid profile, C reactive protein or interleukin 6 in overweight/obese populations. In normal weight populations, ST-HIIT and LT-HIIT significantly improved VO2 max, but no other significant effects were observed. Current evidence suggests that ST-HIIT and LT-HIIT can increase VO2 max and improve some cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight/obese populations.

  • Physical activity
  • Cardiovascular
  • VO2max
  • Exercise
  • Metabolism

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  • Contributors All authors have made substantial contributions to the conception and design of the study. RBB executed the search strategy and screened the initial results of the literature searches. RBB and PST assessed studies for inclusion, appraised and extracted data from the included studies. RBB drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding RBB is supported by the Strategic Research Scholarship grant from Central Queensland University. This manuscript is in part supported by CQUniversity Health CRN. MJD is supported by a Future Leader Fellowship (ID 100029) from the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.