High intensity training
: implications for optimal ageing

  • Simon Adamson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Ageing is associated with a decline in health. Physical activity is known to attenuate this decline; however a large amount of the general population does not participate in the recommended amount of physical activity. Time is reported in middle-aged and elderly populations as a major barrier to exercise participation. Therefore time-efficient and effective exercise paradigms are required to encourage engagement in physical activity, improve health and reduce the risk of disease. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the potential of using high intensity training (HIT) as an exercise paradigm to promote optimal ageing. Seventy seven participants (age range 35-75 years) were recruited to take part in HIT protocols consisting of 10 x 6 second sprints interspersed with a minimum of 1 minute recovery. Prior to taking part in the training participants underwent a series of baseline measures which included physical function tests, predicted aerobic capacity, oral glucose tolerance test, fasting lipid profile, body composition and blood pressure. After 6-10 week of training, participants were retested to determine the effectiveness of HIT. Following 6, 8 or 10 weeks of HIT, physical function was significantly improved by 9-29% in both middle aged and elderly populations. Aerobic capacity was increased by 10.5% in middle aged participants and by 5.1-8.7% in elderly participants. Blood glucose clearance, as assessed by area under the curve, was decreased by 6% in the middle aged participants and 4.2-17% in the elderly population. Systolic blood pressure was unchanged in the middle aged participants but was reduced by 5.4-8% in the elderly participants. Following 10 weeks of HIT, circulating lipid profile was significantly improved in the elderly by 11-25.9%. These improvements are speculated to be a result of HIT-induced adaptations in skeletal muscle mitochondrial, cardiac, vascular and metabolic function. Very short duration sprints provide rapid improvements in various aspects of health and could be utilised to promote optimal ageing.
Date of AwardJan 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorJames N. Cobley (Supervisor) & John Babraj (Supervisor)


  • High intensity training
  • Ageing
  • Physical activity
  • Health

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