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Exercise Periodization over the Year Improves Metabolic Syndrome and Medication Use


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2018 - Volume 50 - Issue 10 - p 1983–1991
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001659

Purpose We aimed to determine if yearly repeated exercise training reduces metabolic syndrome (MetS) and the use of medicines to control MetS components.

Methods Fifty-five MetS individuals were randomized into a TRAIN group that underwent two yearly programs of 16-wk high-intensity interval training or a nonexercising CONT group. We measured the evolution of all five MetS components, cardiorespiratory fitness (assessed by V˙O2PEAK) and medicine use, at baseline (0 months), mid (12 months), and end-point (24 months). Testing took place 8 months after the last training session to assess the chronic effects of training.

Results Daily physical activity (wristband activity monitors) and calorie intake (3-d nutritional diary) remained similar to baseline at 1 and 2 yr in each group and were not different between groups. Blood triglycerides and glucose concentrations did not significantly vary in any group. However, waist circumference increased only in CONT after 2 yr (107 ± 2 cm to 111 ± 3 cm; P = 0.004). Mean arterial pressure decreased in TRAIN (101 ± 2 mm Hg to 94 ± 2 mm Hg; P = 0.002), whereas it remained unchanged in CONT (98 ± 2 mm Hg to 99 ± 2 mm Hg; P = 1.000) after 2 yr. Starting from similar levels at baseline, after 2 yr V˙O2PEAK was higher (2.32 ± 0.14 L·min−1 vs 1.98 ± 0.11 L·min−1; P = 0.049) and medicine use lower (1.27 ± 0.22 vs 2.23 ± 0.43; P = 0.043) in TRAIN than CONT. The reduction in MAP in TRAIN commanded a parallel reduction in MetS Z-score from baseline to 2 yr (0.30 ± 0.1 to 0.07 ± 0.1; P = 0.013).

Conclusions Two yearly 16-wk high-intensity interval training programs are enough exercise to chronically lower MetS while preventing the reductions in cardiorespiratory fitness associated to aging. Of clinical relevance, yearly exercise training halts the increase in medicine use that occurs in non-exercising MetS individuals.

Exercise Physiology Lab at Toledo, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, SPAIN

Address for correspondence: Ricardo Mora-Rodriguez, Ph.D., Exercise Physiology Lab at Toledo, University of Castilla-La Mancha, 45071 Toledo, Spain; E-mail:

Submitted for publication February 2018.

Accepted for publication April 2018.

© 2018 American College of Sports Medicine