Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

February 2020

ACE Examines Effectiveness of REHIT

By Dave Ramont

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a nonprofit organization that works to improve physical activity levels by certifying exercise professionals and health coaches, understands that a lack of time is one of the most common hurdles for people when it comes to regularly exercising, so they commissioned a scientific study to find out if reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT) could help solve this common problem. REHIT is an evolution of the traditional high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT can involve high rates of exertion, with sessions typically lasting 30 minutes, and it's been shown to offer many of the same benefits of traditional cardiorespiratory exercise. But for sedentary individuals or those with chronic diseases, HIIT might not be a viable option. Workouts in the REHIT program are shorter and less demanding, which may help people to commit for the long term. This is a positive since physical inactivity can play a role in the onset of a number of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Lance Dalleck and his team of researchers in the High Altitude Exercise Physiology Program at Western Colorado University were recruited by ACE to determine if three weeks of REHIT workouts could overcome the negative cardiometabolic effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Ten volunteers—all of whom had two cardiometabolic risk factors for metabolic syndrome (MetS), were able to exercise on a treadmill and stationary bike and who were sedentary for eight or more hours a day—were enlisted for the study, which would last six weeks. Following baseline testing, volunteers were assigned to either the REHIT group or a control group, with participants switching groups after the first three weeks. The REHIT group rode an AI-powered, interactive stationary bike for nearly 10 minutes, including a warmup and cool-down, plus two all-out sprints separated by a three-minute recovery period.

After three weeks of three REHIT sessions per week, the study found that fasting blood glucose and average blood glucose levels for the previous two to three months showed a significant decrease in the REHIT group. Other favorable outcomes in this group were noted as well, including a positive trend toward improved V02max values.

While cardiometabolic values did show improvement over the short study, researchers caution that people shouldn't replace their regular exercise programs with a REHIT program. Instead, during busy times, REHIT might be utilized to avoid neglecting exercise. REHIT programming is time-efficient, personalized and self-guided, which can be beneficial during hectic periods.

Cedric X. Bryant, president and chief science officer for ACE, pointed out that many people blame a lack of time for their exercise shortcomings, though it's known that even modest amounts of movement each day can help combat inactivity-related diseases. "This research found that the REHIT program may offer a solution for this barrier. It can be a great way to introduce physical activity to beginners or to maintain fitness gains when people are simply too busy for their usual exercise programs."

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