Client Outreach: Staying Fit Physically and Mentally

Physical and mental health are important parts of any good self-care regimen.

No matter what you’re dealing with—whether times are challenging or you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world—one of the most important parts of self-care is ensuring both physical and mental health are top priorities.

Does High-Intensity Interval Training Improve Physical + Mental Health? 

That is the question one meta-review of 33 systematic reviews tried to answer.

The Study

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been routinely lauded for its benefits across multiple populations, though the evidence on both its safety and efficacy is not clear. 

This meta-review focused on establishing the benefits, safety and adherence of HIIT interventions across all populations from systematic reviews and meta-analyses. 

Researchers searched major databases for systematic reviews (with and without meta-analyses) of randomized and non-randomized trials that compared HIIT to a con- trol. For this study, 33 systematic reviews (including 25 meta-analyses) were retrieved comprising both healthy people and people with physical health complications.

The Results

When compared to nonactive controls, evidence suggested HIIT was beneficial across multiple markers, including improved cardiorespiratory fitness, blood glucose and glycemic control, vascular function, cardiac function, heart rate, some inflammatory markers, exercise capacity and muscle mass. HIIT improved cardiorespiratory fitness, some inflammatory markers and muscle structure when compared to active controls. Additionally, improvements in anxiety and depression were seen compared to pre-training. 

“No acute injuries were reported and mean adherence rates surpassed 80 percent in most systematic reviews,” researchers noted. “Thus, HIIT is associated with multiple benefits.”

Swedish Massage Therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder 

The Study 

As part of a previous exploratory grant, researchers demonstrated that six weeks of twice-weekly Swedish massage therapy was more effective than an active control in decreasing Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale scores. Building on this work, researchers set out to investigate if an additional six weeks of twice-weekly Swedish massage therapy would lead to greater clinical and statistical benefit. 

The Results 

“We found that Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale scores did continue to decrease with an additional six weeks of therapy,” researchers noted, “but that the greatest benefit occurred during the first versus the second 12 sessions.” Additionally, researchers suggest that preliminary findings indicate that because the majority of benefit in symptom reduction happens in the first six weeks, that may be sufficient for a majority of patients. 

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1. Martland R, Mondelli V, Gaughran F, Stubbs B. "Can high-intensity interval training improve physical and mental health outcomes? A meta-
review of 33 systematic reviews across the lifespan." J. Sports Sci. 2020 Feb;38(4):430-469.

2. Rapaport MH, Schettler PJ, Larson ER, Dunlop BW, Rakofsky JJ, Kinkead B. "Six versus 12 weeks of Swedish massage therapy for generalized anxiety disorder: preliminary findings." Complement Ther. Med. 2021 Jan;56:102593.