High intensity interval training makes your heart more efficient

For regular readers of the blog, it will come as no surprise that we here at CERG place a high value on high-intensity exercise (take for instance, our posts proclaiming the glories of 4×4 intervals). Nevertheless, for those of you who are still on the fence, here’s another piece of evidence for why you might want to seriously consider incorporating some interval training into your exercise routine.

In a recent paper in the Journal of Applied Physiology in collaboration with researchers from the University of Tromsø, we found that high-intensity interval training shifted the heart’s metabolic preference; glucose utilization increased by 36% while fatty acid metabolism dropped concordantly. It was already known that high-intensity interval training yields superior results to continuous moderate exercise as far as increasing peak oxygen uptake and improving cardiac function, but the mechanistic reasons for this were unknown. This work sheds light on that mystery, and could lead to the development of new therapeutic options for CVD patients.

In addition, there were certain transcriptional changes that only occurred during high-intensity exercise, for example the maximal mitochondrial respiration capacity increased, and oxygen waste decreased. The study found that cardiac efficiency increased as the heart required less oxygen for nonmechanical work. These changes might be an important part of why high-intensity interval training gives better results.

Intensity matters
The paper’s publication in the Journal of Applied Physiology was accompanied by an editorial that describes why training intensity matters in greater detail. For the science-oriented amongst you, it’s a nice read summarizing how far we’ve come from recommending bed rest to heart failure patients. Nevertheless, the message is equally pertinent to those of us who already are fit and exercise on a regular basis: there are certain benefits to exercise that only can be achieved with high-intensity activities.

So if you don’t know where to start, check out our 4×4 video, and get ready for some intervals!

Written by Hanna Sofie Ellingsen at CERG.

This entry was posted in 4x4, Cardiovascular disease, Exercise, Fitness, In English, Research by CERG. Bookmark the permalink.

About CERG

The Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) seeks to identify the key mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of physical on cardiac health in the context of disease prevention and treatment. Named the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine under Professor Ulrik Wisløff's leadership in 2011, CERG uses both top-down and bottom-up approaches to combat lifestyle-related disease.

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