UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Examining the psychological and behavioural implications of interval exercise for physically inactive adults Stork, Matthew Jordan


Interval exercise refers to short, intermittent bouts of high-intensity exercise separated by periods of recovery. A surge of interest in interval exercise over the past decade has advanced our understanding of the physiological and health benefits of interval exercise training among healthy individuals and those with cardiometabolic diseases. This has led to growing interest from the perspective of improving public and population health, given that interval exercise training can be a time-efficient exercise strategy to elicit adaptations typically associated with long-duration traditional endurance exercise training. However, the psychological outcomes and behavioural implications of engaging in interval exercise for largely inactive populations are less clear and have become the topic of intense debate. Thus, this thesis aimed to shed light on the ongoing debate by comprehensively evaluating the existing research evidence and examining the psychological and behavioural implications of engaging in interval exercise among physically inactive adults. First, a scoping review was conducted to provide a comprehensive synthesis of the existent research evidence on the psychological responses to interval exercise. Second, a mixed-methods experimental approach was used to study thirty inactive participants’ psychological responses to acute bouts of interval and continuous exercise performed in a lab setting and their subsequent real-world exercise behaviour. Third, a repeated-measures crossover design was used to study the effects of motivational music on the psychological, psychophysical and physiological responses to a practical interval exercise protocol among twenty-four insufficiently active adults. The primary findings of this thesis were: 1) emerging research evidence supports the viability of interval exercise as an alternative to continuous exercise; 2) single sessions of interval exercise can be as enjoyable and preferable as traditional continuous exercise among inactive individuals; 3) there may be differences in the affect-behaviour relationship between interval and continuous exercise; and 4) the application of motivational music during interval exercise may be a viable strategy to enhance affect, enjoyment, and performance of interval exercise for insufficiently active adults. Overall, the contributions from this dissertation provide a critical advancement to our understanding about the viability of interval exercise and its potential to improve physical activity among largely inactive populations.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International