Research has demonstrated associations between differing modalities of physical activity (PA) and behavioral and learning outcomes; however, little evidence exists in real world settings. To evaluate the effects of embedding high intensity interval training (HITT) and resistance training (RT) into physical education (PE) curriculum on PA, academic performance, and behavior in youth attending urban schools. Forty boys and 30 girls; ages 8-10 yrs. enrolled in an expanded public school supplemental learning program were assigned into one of three conditions using a pragmatic trial design: standard PE curriculum (n = 23), HITT (n = 25), and RT (n = 22). PA was measured using accelerometers; math achievement scores were conducted at baseline and post-intervention using the Math Knowledge Assessment (MKA); behavior was assessed using the Abbreviated Conners Rating Scale (ACRS) daily. Participation in HITT resulted in 1.86 additional vigorous PA minutes (p=0.04) and 0.76 additional very vigorous PA minutes (P=0.02) per session, but was not associated with increased moderate PA minutes compared to the control group. RT PA outcomes did not differ from regular PE. Participating in HIIT, but not RT, was associated with a 1.82-point improvement in math test scores compared to those in the same grade in the standard PE group (p=0.02). No group assignment was associated with behavioral ratings. Embedding HITT within PE has potential for improving vigorous PA levels and may affect learning outcomes in urban youth. This is consistent with prior studies which show how short bouts of intense exercise can improve cognitive outcomes.


Physical Activity Low-Income Communities High Intensity Interval Training Resistance Training Health Promotion


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