DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2023-0498 ISSN: 1715-5312

Interval training and cardiometabolic health in reproductive-aged females

Trine Moholdt, Md Abu Jafar Sujan, Emily Rose Ashby, Kassia Beetham
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology
  • General Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Physical activity and exercise training are especially important for reproductive-aged females as exercise-induced health benefits can also affect their infants. However, levels of physical inactivity remain high among females in this age group, before, during, and after pregnancy. There is a great need for practical and feasible exercise modes to increase adherence to exercise in this population, and interval training may be a time-efficient training modality. Interval training is a form of exercise involving intermittent bouts of intense effort interspersed with recovery periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. A substantial amount of research indicates that interval training induces superior cardiometabolic health benefits compared with iso-energetic moderate-intensity continuous exercise. This review provides a comprehensive overview of research on interval training interventions in reproductive-aged females across various life stages, focusing on the cardiometabolic health benefits. We discuss the potential role of interval training in premenopausal females with overweight/obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, and subfertility, as well as the potential influence of oral contraceptives on cardiometabolic adaptations to interval training. Furthermore, this review also highlights recent findings supporting the beneficial role of high-intensity interval training for cardiometabolic health outcomes during pregnancy. In summary, the existing evidence suggests that interval training can improve several cardiometabolic and reproductive outcomes in females spanning different life stages. However, more research is needed to further strengthen the evidence-base for physical activity recommendations for females in their reproductive years of life.

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