The primary goal was to examine the effect of an acute bout of high-intensity interval training on inhibitory control both immediately and 30-min post-exercise in adolescents hospitalized for a mental illness.
Participants were recruited at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Participants performed exercise and control conditions in a randomized, counterbalanced manner. The Colour-Word Stroop Task (CWST) assessed Interference Cost (reaction time) pre, post, and 30-min post for each condition (exercise/control). The exercise condition included a 12-min HIIT circuit consisting of body weight exercises performed in a 1:1 work to rest ratio. The control condition involved reading magazines. Repeated-measures ANOVA evaluated changes in the interference cost and accuracy measures of the CWST.
There was a significant interaction between condition and time for the interference cost measure, F(1.6,43.3) = 13.6, p < .0001, η2 = .34. Interference cost was significantly reduced immediately after exercise compared to control (Mdiff = 78.8 ± 14.91, p < .001) and 30-min post-exercise compared to control (Mdiff = 59.6 ± 15.14, p = .001). Accuracy did not differ by time, F(2,54) = .14, p ≤ .87, η2 = .01 nor condition, F(1,27) = 2.25, p = .15, η2 = .08.
HIIT was able to improve inhibitory control by increasing response efficiency rather than improving the overall ability to respond correctly. The impact of pre-therapy HIIT to enhance focus and reduce impulsive thoughts and behaviours may improve adolescent patients’ response to mental health treatment.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute