Postmenopausal women cite lack of time as their primary barrier to exercise and related weight control behaviors. The purpose of this study was to address this barrier via testing the feasibility and initial outcomes of a short-duration/high-intensity interval training (HIIT)-based weight loss program among obese postmenopausal women, with descriptive comparison to an endurance-focused exercise program.
A 16-week behavioral program incorporated (1) HIIT to limit time necessary to produce health benefits of exercise, and (2) wearable activity sensors to facilitate self-monitoring exercise. Participants (n = 11; MAge = 59 ± 5.33; MBMI = 32.0 ± 2.53 kg/m2) were randomly assigned to HIIT or endurance exercise. Both groups followed a calorie-restricted diet, attended monthly in-person meetings, weekly weigh-ins and electronic check-ins to review behavioral skills, and monitored their exercise with a Fitbit ChargeHR. Adherence to exercise programs, assessed with the Fitbit sensor, was used to determine feasibility.
Participants in the HIIT group (6/6) adhered to their program, whereas 3 of 5 adhered to the Endurance program. Participants in the HIIT group lost twice as much weight as those in the Endurance group (8.7% vs 4.3% of initial body weight), and lost an additional 6 in. of body mass. In addition, only the HIIT group significantly changed fat mass, body mass index, and fat-free mass (Ps < 0.04).
These findings support the feasibility and potential effectiveness of HIIT for weight loss and body composition changes in obese postmenopausal women, and indicate that additional investigation of this approach is warranted to reduce postmenopausal chronic disease risk.