Aquatic High-Intensity Interval Training Could Benefit Individuals With Chronic Conditions, Study Shows

In Education

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a fitness approach characterized by brief, intense bursts of activity alternated with short rest periods. Recently, it has gained popularity as an effective exercise method. New research indicates that performing HIIT underwater can enhance its benefits.

AHIIT beneficial for chronic conditions

Aquatic High-Intensity Interval Training (AHIIT) has shown benefits for adults with chronic conditions. Researchers from the University of Melbourne and Oslo Metropolitan University have found that AHIIT can improve exercise capacity and is equally as beneficial as land-based training (LBHIIT). This suggests that AHIIT can be a safe and valuable alternative for individuals with chronic conditions who are unable to perform traditional HIIT exercises on land.

There is a belief that HIIT offers more health benefits compared to moderate-intensity exercise for both individuals with and without chronic conditions. HIIT is appealing because it improves endurance and aerobic capacity in a shorter duration. Exercising in water can reduce joint pressure, enabling movements that may not be possible on land but there is conflicting evidence regarding its physiological benefits.

Researchers examined the impact of AHIIT in a study involving 18 trials. These trials evaluated the enhancement of participants’ exercise capacity through AHIIT compared to LBHIIT, moderate-intensity exercise in water (AMICT), or a non-exercising control group. Measurements included oxygen consumption, walking tests, and physical fitness tests.

AHIIT had fewer adverse effects and high adherence rates

The study included 868 participants, predominantly women (74%), with diverse conditions such as arthritis, back pain, Type 2 diabetes, chronic lung disease (COPD), and multiple sclerosis. Some participants had multiple chronic conditions. Group differences were measured using standardized mean differences (SMD), where an SMD of 0.2-0.5 indicated a small effect, 0.5-0.8 a moderate effect, and 0.8 or more pointed to a large effect.

Findings indicated that AHIIT moderately improved exercise capacity (SMD 0.78) compared to no exercise. No difference was seen compared to LBHIIT. Interestingly, AHIIT had fewer adverse events and adherence rates of 84-100%. However, the observational nature and lack of blind assessors in some trials may impact findings, and long-term improvements in exercise capacity or quality of life were not addressed.

Mobile Sliding Menu