Perceptions of High-Intensity Interval Training Among People With Spinal Cord Injury: A Mixed-Methods Analysis

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Joseph Peters Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
Disability Resources and Educational Services, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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Kellie Halloran Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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Alexander Teague Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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Emily Erlenbach Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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Libak Abou Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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Mariana Kersh Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
Carle Illinois College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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Ian Rice Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

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This mixed-method project investigated how people with spinal cord injury perceive high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Using a recumbent hand cycle, 11 active men and 9 active women with spinal cord injury or related disease participated in a single HIIT and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) session. Following exercise, participants completed surveys assessing enjoyment, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations. Ten participants were randomly selected to participate in a semistructured interview to assess perceptions toward HIIT. Quantitative survey data revealed that participants trended toward enjoying HIIT over MICT (p = .06) with similar levels of self-efficacy and outcome expectations toward HIIT and MICT (p > .05). Qualitative data revealed that participants believed HIIT would enhance long-term physical and self-evaluative outcomes; several barriers emerged that could prevent widespread adoption among the general population with spinal cord injury. Results support HIIT as a viable exercise option, although research should begin exploring ways to remove HIIT-related barriers that people with spinal cord injury may encounter.

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