The effectiveness of a high-intensity games intervention on improving indices of health in young children

J Sports Sci. 2016;34(3):190-8. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2015.1048521. Epub 2015 May 26.


This study assessed the effectiveness of a 6-week, high-intensity, games-based intervention on physiological and anthropometric indices of health, in normal weight (n = 26; 32.5 ± 8.9 kg) and obese (n = 29; 49.3 ± 8.9 kg) children (n = 32 boys, 23 girls), aged 8-10 years. Children were randomised into an exercise or control group. The exercise group participated in a twice-weekly, 40 min active games intervention, alongside their usual school physical education classes. The control group did not take part in the intervention. Before and after the intervention, participants completed both a maximal and submaximal graded exercise test. The submaximal exercise test comprised of a 6 min, moderate- and 6 min heavy-intensity bout, interspersed with a 5 min recovery. The exercise group demonstrated improvements in maximal oxygen uptake (51.4 ± 8.5 vs 54.3 ± 9.6 ml · kg(-1) · min(-1)) and peak running speed (11.3 ± 1.6 vs 11.9 ± 1.6 km · h(-1)), and a reduction in the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise between assessments (P < .05). A decrease in waist circumference and increase in muscle mass were observed between assessments for the obese participants randomised to the intervention (both P < .05). This study demonstrates that a short-term, high-intensity games intervention may elicit positive changes in physiological and anthropometric indices of health in normal weight and obese children.

Keywords: HIIT; exercise; obesity; paediatric; peak.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Play and Playthings
  • Waist Circumference