Research underway to assess high intensity exercise regimes

Researchers at Robert Gordon University (RGU) are working to identify the impact and benefits of innovative high intensity exercise regimes in people who are overweight or obese.

PhD research student Dean Leighton is put through his paces as lead researcher Dr Giovanna Bermano looks on.The study aims to assess the body’s oxidative stress and inflammation response following three different exercise bouts known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

The research is being led by Dr Giovanna Bermano from the university’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing Research (IHWR) alongside researcher Dr Marie Goua, Dr Katherine Burgess and Dr Eimear Dolan from RGU’s Schools of Pharmacy and Life Sciences and Health Sciences.

PhD research student Dean Leighton is also working on the study and aims to enlist healthy male volunteers from across the north-east to participate.

Volunteers must be aged between 18 and 40 years old, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 25-35 kg/m2 and currently undertake less than one hour of structured exercise per week.

Dr Bermano said: “High Intensity Interval Training comprises repeated brief bursts of vigorous exercise interspersed with rest periods and is emerging as a very time-efficient, alternative exercise strategy to potentially reduce cardiovascular disease-risk and improve health status.

“Overweight and inactive individuals tend to have higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, with prolonged high levels recently suggested as the initial triggers for cardiovascular disease development and emergence later in life.

“Our study will use three commonly studied HIIT protocols which are safe and well tolerated in inactive and overweight individuals, and compare the body’s oxidative stress and inflammatory responses to a single bout of each type of HIIT exercise.”

Mr Leighton added: “An increasing number of studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes of accumulative HIIT exercise bursts per week can induce, in a healthy and active population, similar or greater fitness and muscle benefits compared to two or three hours of traditional exercise each week such as moderate-intensity jogging or cycling.

“Despite the many documented health benefits of HIIT exercise, very little is known about the oxidative stress and inflammation responses from a single bout of different types of HIIT exercise, especially in an overweight population.

“This study will provide vital information to potentially inform which type of HIIT exercise may be most effective to reduce future cardiovascular disease risk in overweight adults.”

The study would require volunteers to attend:

  • One baseline session to measure body composition, blood pressure, blood lipid profile, and oxidative/inflammatory stress blood markers
  • Three sessions of HIIT exercise, separated by one week between each session
  • Three very brief sessions 24 hours after each of the three exercise sessions to obtain a blood sample

 Participants will receive feedback on their:

  •  Body composition measurements such as BMI, body fat percentage and lean mass percentage
  • Blood pressure measurements
  • Cardio respiratory fitness measurements (VO2max)

 To take part in the study, contact Dean Leighton on 07793 766191 or email

Release by
Ross AndersonCommunications Officer | Health and Sport