NEW ORLEANS — Mayoclinic.org says that Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), “is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Mayo further states that, “having just one of these conditions doesn't mean you have metabolic syndrome. But, it does mean you have a greater risk of serious disease. And, if you develop more of these conditions, your risk of complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, rises even higher.”

Prior research has pointed to the fact that aerobic fitness is low in those individuals, who meet the MetS criteria, which may pose a viable option to reduce many of the MetS criteria.

Researchers from the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Toledo University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain – writing Effectiveness of Aerobic Exercise Programs for Health Promotion in Metabolic Syndrome – in the September issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise - tested the effects of 16 weeks of aerobic training with a frequency of three times per week with 125 MetS diagnosed patients – including 42 women and 79 men – with low cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF).

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The investigators used either interval training - 4 and 1-minute high-intensity interval training (4HIIT and 1HIIT) or moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) - and compared it against a non-exercise control group (CONT). The purpose of this study was to determine the therapeutic impact on MetS components and CRF of these three different aerobic exercise programs.

The participants were randomized during the 16-week study period either to four 4-minute HIIT at 90% of their heart rate maximum (HR Max), 50 minutes of MICT at 70% of their HR Max, 1-minute HIIT at 100% of HR Max or a CONT group.

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Each participants CRF was measured by a VO2 max test – also known as a cardio-pulmonary stress test – to assess peak oxygen consumption – along with blood and body composition analysis. In addition, sex specific equations were used to calculate MetS risk factors with the treatments.

The researchers said that, “our data suggest that exercise volume is the main factor promoting health in deconditioned people with MetS, whereas exercise type (i.e., intervals vs continuous) and intensity (70% vs 100% HRMAX) are secondary to this particular population."

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It was further stated that, “the finding that MICT is enough to improve MetS components and CRF simplifies exercise prescription, while avoiding concerns about the risks of using HIIT in people with a deteriorated cardiovascular system."

In short, not all people, especially those with initial low CRF or obese, tolerate the higher intensity interval training, which makes the MICT a viable, effective alternative to help bring MetS under control.