All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Gordon Fisher

Advisory Committee Members

Byron Lai

Eric Plaisance

James Rimmer

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) School of Education


BACKGROUND: Recent studies have shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) can improve cardiometabolic health in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Individuals with SCI experience a wide array of barriers to participate in exercise such as lack of time, accessible equipment, and transportation. It is imperative to identify modes of exercise that provide effective health benefits and are accessible while requiring low time commitment. Studies have demonstrated that HIIT has similar positive improvements in cardiometabolic health with 20% of total time commitment compared to moderate intensity exercise (MIT) in short term studies. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study is to assess changes in cardiometabolic health following 16-weeks of a home-based telehealth HIIT arm crank exercise program in individuals with long standing SCI. METHODS: Participants were randomly assigned to 16 weeks of HIIT arm crank exercise training or a no-exercise control group. Body composition via DXA, resting energy expenditure (REE), blood lipids, fasting insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, aerobic capacity, and muscular strength and endurance were assessed at baseline and at 16 weeks post intervention. Qualitative interviews were conducted for the HIIT group upon completion of intervention. iv RESULTS: Five participants (3 male, 2 female; n=3 in control, n=2 in HIIT exercise; mean age 53.5 ± 8.5) with longstanding SCI completed the exercise study. The preliminary data of this study shows significant group by time effects for gynoid % fat (p=0.015) and REE (p=0.006) showing improvement for body composition and REE in the HIIT group relative to control. Although not statistically significant, there were mean improvements in aerobic capacity and muscular endurance in HIIT group compared to control. CONCLUSION: These preliminary data demonstrate that 16 weeks of telehealth HIIT may improve body composition and REE in individuals with SCI. The qualitative results demonstrate that the participants reported enjoying the remote aspect, increases in energy levels, and increases daily quality of life. These preliminary results suggest that a long-term telehealth HIIT program to individuals with SCI and may show improvements in overall health; however, a larger sample size is needed in order to confirm these observations. We hope to demonstrate that home-based telehealth HIIT program will improve cardiometabolic health, can yield high adherence, and be an enjoyable form of exercise for individuals with SCI.

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