Interventions that reduce anxiety sensitivity (AS) may have far reaching benefits for the prevention and treatment of mental disorders. Exercise, even when limited to a single session, appears to be an efficacious intervention for reducing AS. This effect has been largely examined using moderate intensity continuous (i.e., without rest) training (MICT). High intensity exercise protocols, such as sprint interval training (SIT), have not been investigated as a strategy for reducing AS or related constructs. We examined the effects of a single session of either SIT or MICT on AS, distress tolerance (DT), and intolerance of uncertainty (IU). A total of 56 participants were randomized into either a 50-min MICT group, a 10-min SIT group, or a waitlist control group. AS, DT, and IU were measured at baseline, post-exercise session, and at 3-day and 7-day follow-ups. Both exercise groups experienced similar reductions in AS; however, these changes appeared attributable to reductions across different AS dimensions. Specifically, significant reductions in the AS Physical Concerns were noted in the SIT group whereas the MICT group experienced significant reductions in both the AS Social and Cognitive Concerns dimensions. Both DT and IU were not changed by either exercise protocol. These findings suggest that exercise protocols varying in intensity and duration can reduce AS. This knowledge could help contribute to the optimization of exercise strategies for reducing AS. Furthermore, as lack of time is frequently reported as a barrier to exercising regularly, findings that SIT reduces overall AS to a similar extent as MICT in a fraction of the time, could inform both research and practice aimed at increasing adherence to exercise protocols for psychological wellbeing.
Updated on May 16, 2020