Effect of high-intensity interval training in adolescents with asthma: the eXercise for Asthma with Commando Joe’s® (X4ACJ) trial

Charles O. N. Winn, Kelly A. Mackintosh, William T. B. Eddolls, Gareth Stratton, Andrew M. Wilson, Melitta A. McNarry, Gwyneth A. Davies

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Background: Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with reduced asthma severity and increased quality of life in those with asthma. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-month high-intensity interval training (HIIT) intervention in adolescents with and without asthma. Methods: A total of 616 adolescents (334 boys; 13.0 ± 1.1 years, 1.57 ± 0.10 m, 52.6 ± 12.9 kg, mean ± SD), including 155 with asthma (78 boys), were recruited as part of a randomized controlled trial from 5 schools (4 control and 1 intervention). The 221 intervention participants (116 boys; 47 asthma) completed 6 months of school-based HIIT (30 min, 3 times per week, 10–30 s bouts at >90% age-predicted maximum heart rate with equal rest). At baseline, mid-intervention, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up, measurements for 20-m shuttle run, body mass index (BMI), lung function, Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, Paediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire, and Asthma Control Questionnaire were collected. Additionally, 69 adolescents (39 boys (of the 36 with asthma there were 21 boys)) also completed an incremental ramp test. For analysis, each group's data (intervention and control) were divided into those with and without asthma. Results: Participants with asthma did not differ from their peers in any parameter of aerobic fitness, at any time-point, but were characterized by a greater BMI. The intervention elicited a significant improvement in maximal aerobic fitness but no change in sub-maximal parameters of aerobic fitness, lung function, or quality of life irrespective of asthma status. Those in the intervention group maintained their BMI, whereas BMI significantly increased in the control group throughout the 6-month period. Conclusion: HIIT represents an effective tool for improving aerobic fitness and maintaining BMI in adolescents, irrespective of asthma status. HIIT was well-tolerated by those with asthma, who evidenced a similar aerobic fitness to their healthy peers and responded equally well to a HIIT program.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-498
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number4
Early online date30 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Body mass index
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Intermittent exercise
  • Intervention
  • Quality of life

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