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Research Bites

Bracko, Michael R. Ed.D., FACSM

doi: 10.1249/01.FIT.0000288547.92481.a9

Advantages of Interval Training; Ten Benefits for Teens Who Exercise; Golf Club Speed and Fitness Improvements in Older Adults; Attitudes About Exercise and Arthritis.

Michael R. Bracko, Ed.D., FACSM, is an exercise physiologist and director of the Institute for Hockey Research and the Occupational Performance Institute in Calgary, Canada. He is an associate editor for ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal® and works in three areas: 1) sports physiology, where he conducts research on the performance characteristics of female ice hockey players, teaches high performance skating, and serves as physiologist for the University of Alberta Women's Hockey Team and the U.S. Men's Deaf Olympic Ice Hockey Team; 2) the health and fitness industry, by contributing to fitness magazines, consulting, presenting at health and fitness meetings such as the ACSM's Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition; and 3) as an occupational physiologist, in the areas of back injury prevention, ergonomics, workstation stretching, and prework warm-up.

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In this study from Norway, the researchers investigated the effect of endurance training at four intensitieson improvement in V˙02max. Forty male university students who were endurance training or physically active three times per week participated in the 8-week study. The training protocols, done 3 days/week, were as follows: long slow distance running (LSD)-continuous running at 70% HRmax for 45 minutes; lactate threshold running (LT)-continuous running at lactate threshold (85% HRmax) for 24.25 minutes; 15/15 interval running-47 running repetitions of 15seconds at 90% to 95% HRmax and15 seconds of active rest at 70% of HRmax; and 4 × 4-minute interval training-4 × 4-min running at 90% to 95% HRmax with 3-minute active rest at 70% HRmax between intervals.

The results indicate that the 15/15- and 4 × 4-min interval training groups increased absolute V˙02max significantly more than the LSD and LT running groups. The 15/15- and 4 × 4-minute groups improved their V˙02max from 60.5 to 64.4 mL · kg−1 · min−1 and 55.5 to 60.4 mL/kg−1/min, respectively.

The authors conclude that more than an 8-week period, the high-intensity aerobic interval training was better for improving V˙02max compared with low intensity continuous training. The authors also indicate that the 15/15 interval training protocol was hard to administer and that longer intervals such as the 4 × 4 was more manageable and is recommended. These findings have implications for motivated and fit clients as well as athletes because it relates to offering a variation in training for improvements in V˙02max (1).



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This study shows that there is more good news about the benefits of exercise. The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships between physical activity and a wide variety of health risk behaviors, including some of the leading causes of adolescent death. The data were collected from 11,957 youths from grades 7 to 12 between 1994 and 1995 and again in 1996.

Participants reported on how often they engaged in activities such as playing sports at school or with their families, using neighborhood recreation centers, skating, skateboarding, biking, participating in physical education classes, watching TV, and playing video games. Other topics covered in the survey included self-esteem, smoking, drinking, sexual activity, driving while drunk, illegal drug use, missing school, wearing seat belts, grades, amount of sleep, performing housework, and having a summer job.

The teens who reported that they engaged in five or more physical activities during a week had 10 advantages over those who reported that their main activity was watching TV or playing video games. The 10 advantages the active teens had include the following: less likely to have sex (including sex without birth control), less likely to smoke cigarettes, less likely to get drunk and drive while drunk, less likely to use illegal drugs other than marijuana, less likely to be absent from school, less likely to have low self-esteem, and more likely to wear a seat belt, more likely to get "A" grades, more likely to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, and more likely to do housework and to have a summer job(2).

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The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a progressive functional fitness program on golf club head speed and fitness in older male golfers. Eighteen male golfers with an average age of 70 years participated in an exercise or control group. The exercise group performed functional training exercises such as flexibility, core stability, balance, and resistance training for 8 weeks. The exercise group participants were instructed not to begin any new physical activity and not to take any golf lessons.

Fitness was assessed with the Senior Fitness Test, which has been used extensively and is a valid and reliable indicator of fitness in various older adult populations. Club head speed was measured with a SwingMate radar.

The fitness testing results indicate that the exercise group improved in the30-second chair stand test, chair sit and reach flexibility test, a 2-minute step test, and an 8-foot timed up-and-go test for agility and dynamic balance. The exercise group did not improve in the arm curl test for upper body strength and back scratchflexibility test. The exercise group had significantly different golf club head speed improvements compared with the control group. The exercise group improved their club head speed of 127.3 to 133.6 km · hr−1 compared with the control group that experienced a decrease in club head speed from 134.5 to 133.3 km/h. This is good news for older adults who may be motivated to exercise to improve their golf game (3).



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This study investigated what motivates and enables some people with arthritis to exercise and what prevents others from regular exercise participation. The researchers collected their data by asking 68 subjects about their perceptions of, and experiences with, exercise. Sixty-eight people with arthritis were divided into 12 focus groups. To help participants feel more comfortable to talk, the groups were segmented by exercise status, socioeconomic status, and race. Exercise was defined by participation in moderate activities on at least 3 days per week for 30 minutes per day, vigorous activities on at least 3 days per week for 20 minutes per day, or strength training on at least 3 days per week for 20minutes per day.

Physical, psychological, social, and environmental factors were perceived to influence exercise. Some of these factors were similar to those in general adult samples, whereas others were unique to individuals with arthritis. Five specific factors were identified: pain was identified as a barrier by all focus groups, but people who exercise were more likely to adapt to the pain and work through it to get the benefits of exercise, whereas nonexercisers were more likely not to exercise; attitudes and beliefs-people who exercise were more likely than nonexercisersto express the belief that they were physically able to exercise; lack of support-nonexercisers were more likely to indicate that their physician did not refer them to a helpful exercise program and voiced a desire to meet exercise partners with arthritis; lack of programs-for exercisers and nonexercisers, a lack of exercise programs or exercise facilities for individuals with arthritis was cited as a barrier; symptom management-exercisers were more positive about how exercisecould reduce pain and improve mobility because they had experienced these benefits (4).

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1. Helgerud, J., K. Hoydal, E. Wang, et al. Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve V˙02max more than moderate training. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® 39(4):665-671, 2007.
2. Nelson, M., and P. Gordon-Larsen. Physical activity and sedentary behavior patterns are associated with selected adolescent health risk behaviors. Pediatrics 117(4):1281-1290, 2006.
3. Thompson, C.J., K. Meyers Cobb, and J. Blackwell. Functional training improves club head speed and functional fitness in older golfers. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 21(1):131-137, 2007.
4. Wilcox, S., C. Der Ananian, J. Abbott, et al. Perceived exercise barriers, enablers, and benefits among exercising and nonexercising adults with arthritis: results from a qualitative study. Arthritis Care & Research 55(4):616-627, 2006.
© 2007 American College of Sports Medicine