High-intensity Interval Training for the Management of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis: Participant Experiences and Perspectives

Shelley E. Keating, Ilaria Croci, Matthew P. Wallen, Emily R. Cox, Jeff S. Coombes, Nicola W. Burton, Graeme A. Macdonald, Ingrid J. Hickman

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Background and Aims: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a therapeutic option for people with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). However, the perspectives and experiences of HIIT for people with NASH are unknown, limiting translation of research. We explored the experiences and perspectives of both professionally supervised and self-directed HIIT in people with NASH and evaluated participant-reported knowledge, barriers, and enablers to commencing and sus-taining HIIT. 

Methods: Twelve participants with NASH un-derwent 12 weeks of supervised HIIT (3 days/week, 4×4 minutes at 85–95% maximal heart rate, interspersed with 3 minutes active recovery), followed by 12-weeks of self-directed (unsupervised) HIIT. One-on-one, semistructured participant interviews were conducted by exercise staff prior to HIIT and following both supervised and self-directed HIIT to explore prior knowledge, barriers, enablers, and outcomes at each stage. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, coded, and thematically analyzed by two independent re-searchers. 

Results: Four dominant themes were identified: (1) no awareness of/experience with HIIT and ambivalence about exercise capabilities; (2) multiple medical and social barriers to commencing and continuing HIIT; (3) exercise specialist support was a highly valued enabler, and (4) HIIT was enjoyed and provided holistic benefits. 

Conclusions: People with NASH may lack knowledge of and confidence for HIIT, and experience multiple complex barriers to commencing and continuing HIIT. Exercise specialist support is a key enabler to sustained engagement. These factors need to be addressed in future clinical programs to augment the uptake and long-term sustainability of HIIT by people with NASH so they can experience the range of related benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1060
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Hepatology
Issue number5
Early online date21 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Exercise
  • Lifestyle
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Patient-reported outcomes
  • Quali-tative


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