Group studio cycling: an effective intervention to improve cardio-metabolic health in overweight physically inactive individuals

Introduction: Supervised, laboratory based studies of high intensity interval training (HIIT) is effective at improving health markers in groups at risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Studio cycling, incorporating aerobic and high intensity exercise, may offer a platform for the implementation of HIIT within the wider community. Methods: Eight, overweight, physically inactive (<1.5 hr·wk-1) but otherwise healthy volunteers completed eight weeks of supervised studio cycling lasting 20-50 minutes 3 times per week. Participants underwent assessment for maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) body composition, blood lipids, glucose tolerance and insulin resistance before and after the intervention. Results: Adherence to training was >95%. Mean and peak intensity were equivalent to 83% and 97% of HRmax·VO2max increased from 27.1 ± 4.7 mL·kg·min-1 to 30.3 ± 4.3 mL·kg·min-1 (p < 0.0001). Body fat percentage was reduced by 13.6% from 31.8 ± 2.4% to 27.5 ± 4.5% (p < 0.05). Total cholesterol (4.8 ± 1.1 mmol·L-1 to 4.2 ± 1.2 mmol·L-1) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (2.6 ± 0.9 mmol·L-1 to 2.0 ± 1.2 mmol·L-1) were reduced (both p < 0.05). There were no significant differences to glucose tolerance or insulin resistance. Discussion: Group exercise is effective at improving the cardio-metabolic health in previously physically inactive overweight individuals. Coupled with the high adherence rate, studio cycling offers an effective intervention improving cardiovascular health in physically inactive cohorts. Conclusions: Studio cycling can be implemented as a highly effective high intensity interval training intervention for improving health in overweight, inactive individuals and may promote improved exercise adherence.