Integrating high-intensity interval training into the workplace: The Work-HIIT pilot RCT

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2020 Dec;30(12):2445-2455. doi: 10.1111/sms.13811. Epub 2020 Sep 11.


The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) intervention integrated into the workplace on physical and mental health outcomes in a sample of adults. The Work-HIIT intervention was evaluated at the University of Newcastle (March-July 2019). University employees (18+ years) who self-identified as predominantly sedentary at work (n = 47, 43.0 ± 10.7 years; 41 female) were recruited, screened, and randomized after baseline assessments into Work-HIIT (n = 24) or wait-list control (n = 23) conditions. Participants were asked to attend 2-3 researcher-facilitated HIIT sessions/week (weeks 1-8). Sessions included a 2-minute gross-motor warm-up, followed by various combinations of aerobic and muscular fitness exercises lasting 8 minutes (using 30:30 second work: rest intervals). Program feasibility was assessed using measures of satisfaction, compliance, adherence, fidelity, and retention. Physiological and psychological outcomes were measured at baseline and 9 weeks. Feasibility data were investigated using descriptive statistics and efficacy outcomes determined using linear mixed models and Cohen's d effect sizes. Participant ratings showed high levels of satisfaction (4.6/5); 71% of participants attended ≥2 sessions/wk and averaged 85.9% HRmax across all sessions (including rest and work intervals). Small-to-medium positive effects resulted for cardiorespiratory fitness [+2.9 laps, 95% CI (-4.19-10.14); d = 0.34] and work productivity [+0.26, d = 0.47]. Large positive effects resulted for muscular fitness [push-ups +3.5, d = 0.95; standing jump +10.1 cm, d = 1.12]; HIIT self-efficacy [+16.53, d = 1.57]; sleep [weekday +0.76 hours, d = 1.05]; and autonomous motivation [+0.23, d = 0.76]. This study supports the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of facilitator-led Work-HIIT as a time-efficient, enjoyable, and convenient workplace exercise option for adults.

Keywords: adult; fitness; high-intensity; sleep; workplace.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness*
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Efficiency
  • Feasibility Studies
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / methods*
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pleasure
  • Workplace*