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Can high-intensity interval training improve mental health outcomes in the general population and those with physical illnesses? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Can high-intensity interval training improve mental health outcomes in the general population and those with physical illnesses? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Martland, Rebecca ORCID: 0000-0002-4080-0171, Korman, Nicole, Firth, Joseph, Vancampfort, Davy, Thompson, Trevor ORCID: 0000-0001-9880-782X and Stubbs, Brendon (2021) Can high-intensity interval training improve mental health outcomes in the general population and those with physical illnesses? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine. bjsports-2021. ISSN 0306-3674 (Print), 1473-0480 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2021-103984)

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Abstract

Objective:
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a safe and feasible form of exercise. The aim of this meta-analysis was to investigate the mental health effects of HIIT, in healthy populations and those with physical illnesses, and to compare the mental health effects to non-active controls and other forms of exercise. Design Random effects meta-analyses were undertaken for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing HIIT with non-active and/or active (exercise) control conditions for the following coprimary outcomes: mental well-being, symptoms of depression, anxiety and psychological stress. Positive and negative affect, distress and sleep outcomes were summarised narratively.

Data sources:
Medline, PsycINFO, Embase and CENTRAL databases were searched from inception to 7 July 2020. Eligibility criteria for selecting studies RCTs that investigated HIIT in healthy populations and/or those with physical illnesses and reported change in mental well-being, depression, anxiety, psychological stress, positive/negative affect, distress and/or sleep quality.

Results:
Fifty-eight RCTs were retrieved. HIIT led to moderate improvements in mental well-being (standardised mean difference (SMD): 0.418; 95% CI: 0.135 to 0.701; n=12 studies), depression severity (SMD: –0.496; 95% CI: −0.973 to −0.020; n=10) and perceived stress (SMD: −0.474; 95% CI: −0.796 to −0.152; n=4) compared with non-active controls, and small improvements in mental well-being compared with active controls (SMD:0.229; 95% CI: 0.054 to 0.403; n=12). There was a suggestion that HIIT may improve sleep and psychological distress compared with non-active controls: however, these findings were based on a small number of RCTs.

Conclusion:
These findings support the use of HIIT for mental health in the general population. Level of evidence The quality of evidence was moderate-to-high according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) criteria.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. No commercial re-use.
Uncontrolled Keywords: High intensity interval training; meta-analysis; mental health; mental wellbeing; depression; anxiety
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development > Centre for Chronic Illness and Ageing
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2021 11:26
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/33911

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