The objective of this pilot study was to compare the effects of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and a moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) performed within a fitness center, on various health indices of 49 sedentary and moderately obese women (age 37 ± 7 years; BMI 32 ± 4 kg/m2) randomly assigned to supervised exercise on a cycle ergometer, 3 times/week, during 12 weeks, at 60% (MICT, n=24) or 85% (HIIT, n=25) of their heart rate reserve for weeks 5-12. Anthropometry, body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, CRF (2 km-walking test estimated V; O2max), quality of life, QoL (SF-36 Questionnaire), eating behaviors (Three Factor Eating Questionnaire, TFEQ) and perceived health (Short Health Perceived Questionnaire, SHPQ) were obtained before and after training from 10 HIIT vs. 13 MICT participants who completed the program. At baseline, both groups showed similar characteristics, except for a better sleep quality (SHPQ) in MICT than in HIIT participants (p<0.005). Increases in CRF (+3 to +5%) and decreases in body weight (-2%) and thus BMI (-2.5 to -4.5%), waist girth (-4%) and fat mass (-6 to - 8%) were comparable (0.0001<p<0.05). The physical component score (SF-36), the cognitive restriction and hunger scores (TFEQ), and the perceived health items (SPHQ) were similarly improved, irrespective of the training mode (0.01<p<0.05). Twelve weeks of either HIIT or MICT led to similar body weight and fat mass losses as well as to comparable improvements in CRF, QoL, eating behaviors and perceived health, in healthy, sedentary and moderately obese women. However, the large dropout in the HIIT (58%; 14 of 24) and MICT (48%; 12 of 25) groups questions the implementation of such training programs within a non-laboratory setting. Further studies are clearly needed to better adapt the conditions of practice to subjects' characteristics and thus promote their long-term adherence to exercise.
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