All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Gordon Fisher

Advisory Committee Members

Gary R Hunter

Eric P Plaisance

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) School of Education


Background: Individuals with SCI fail to meet the recommended exercise guidelines due to limited time, resources, and structural or architectural limitations (e.g., accessibility of facilities and knowledgeable instructors). Therefore, a time efficient and effective exercise program is needed to reverse chronic metabolic conditions and improve health quality in individuals with SCI. A growing body of evidence from our group and others has demonstrated the potential for low volume high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to provide comparable or superior improvements in cardiometabolic health outcomes in able-bodied individuals compared to continuous moderate intensity training (MIT) that requires 60-80% greater time commitment. Purpose: To compare the effects of six weeks of HIIT vs MIT for improving cardiovascular fitness, body composition, blood lipids, insulin sensitivity, and mitochondrial capacity in individuals with SCI. Methods: Participants were five sedentary males (Age: 46.8 ± 12.1, % Fat: 38.4 ± 3.4) with longstanding SCI (C5-L2 injury level) randomized to six weeks of HIIT (n = 3) or MIT (n = 2) arm crank exercise training. All outcomes were measured at baseline and six-weeks post training. Results: These preliminary data demonstrate a significant time effect for total cholesterol (P=0.04), LDL-cholesterol (P=0.04), QUICKI (P=0.029), and chest press (P=0.03). A significant time x group effect was observed for mitochondrial capacity (HIIT 43 to 23 seconds and MIT 48 to 49 seconds; P=0.03); No significant improvements were observed for VO2 peak, peak power, or body composition measurements. Discussion: These preliminary data demonstrate that both HIIT and MIT can significantly improve the blood lipid profiles, insulin sensitivity, and muscle strength in individuals with SCI. Furthermore, it appears that HIIT may have a more robust effect for improving mitochondrial capacity in this population.

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