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Metabolism. 2012 Sep;61(9):1280-8. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.02.009. Epub 2012 Apr 4.

Adding sprints to continuous exercise at the intensity that maximises fat oxidation: implications for acute energy balance and enjoyment.

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School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.


The objective was to examine the effect of adding sprints to continuous exercise at the intensity that maximises fat oxidation (Fat(max)) on energy expenditure, substrate oxidation, enjoyment and post-exercise energy intake in boys. Nine overweight and nine normal weight boys (8-12 years) attended the laboratory on three mornings. First, body anthropometrics, peak aerobic capacity and Fat(max) were assessed. On the remaining two sessions, resting metabolic rate was determined before participants completed 30 min of either continuous cycling at Fat(max) (MOD) or sprint interval exercise consisting of continuous cycling at Fat(max) interspersed with four-second maximal sprints every two minutes (SI). Energy expenditure and substrate oxidation were measured during exercise and for 30 min post-exercise, while participants completed a modified Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES). This was followed by a buffet-like breakfast to measure post-exercise energy intake. Fat oxidation rate was similar between groups and protocols (P>0.05). Both groups expended more energy with SI compared to MOD, resulting from increased carbohydrate oxidation (P<0.05), which was not compensated by increased energy intake. Participants indicated that they preferred SI more than MOD, although there was no significant difference in PACES score between the protocols (P>0.05). In summary, the addition of short sprints to continuous exercise at Fat(max) increased energy expenditure without compromising fat oxidation or stimulating increased post-exercise energy intake. The boys preferred SI and did not perceive it to be any harder than MOD, indicating that sprint interval exercise should be considered in exercise prescription for this population.

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