Background Current guidelines recommend that pregnant women without contraindications should engage in 30 min or more of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week, however, many women fail to achieve this goal. This study examined the effect of adding brief higher intensity intervals to traditional continuous moderate intensity exercise on energy expenditure and the enjoyment of exercise in late pregnancy. This is important to determine given that any additional energy expenditure resulting from higher intensity intervals may be meaningless if enjoyment is compromised, since long-term adherence will likely be low. Methods In this study, 12 healthy pregnant women at 30 ± 1 weeks gestation, aged 35 ± 6 years with a BMI of 27.1 ± 4.3 kg/m2 performed either 30 min of continuous cycling exercise (CONT) at a steady power output equivalent to 65 % age-predicted heart rate maximum or an equivalent period of interval cycling (INTV) consisting of continuous cycling at the same power output as CONT, but with the addition of six 15-s self-paced higher intensity efforts throughout, performed at regular intervals, on separate occasions in a counterbalanced order. Results Mean cycling power output, heart rate, oxygen consumption and energy expenditure were higher during INTV compared with CONT (P < 0.05). However, there was no difference in mean rate of perceived exertion between conditions. Enjoyment of exercise was higher with INTV (P = 0.01). Conclusions The addition of six 15-s higher intensity intervals to continuous moderate intensity exercise effectively increased energy expenditure by 28 %, at the same time as enhancing the enjoyment of exercise in late pregnancy. While these findings may be specific to recreationally active women, this study provides a rationale for future studies to examine the physiological and psychological responses to regular interval training during pregnancy to optimise exercise prescription.
Ong, MJ., Wallman, K., Fournier, P., Newnham, J., & Guelfi, K. (2016). Enhancing energy expenditure and enjoyment of exercise during pregnancy through the addition of brief higher intensity intervals to traditional continuous moderate intensity cycling. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 16, 1-6. . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-016-0947-3