Exercise-induced hypoalgesia - interval versus continuous mode

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Aerobic exercise at approximately 70% of maximal aerobic capacity moderately reduces pain sensitivity and attenuates pain, even after a single session If the analgesic effects depend on exercise intensity, then high-intensity interval exercise at 85% of maximal aerobic capacity should further reduce pain The aim of this study was to explore the exercise-induced analgesic effects of high-intensity interval aerobic exercise and to compare them with the analgesic effects of moderate continuous aerobic exercise Twenty-nine young untrained healthy males were randomly assigned to aerobic-continuous (70% heart rate reserve (HRR)) and interval (4 × 4 min at 85% HRR and 2 min at 60% HRR between cycles) exercise modes, each lasting 30 min Psychophysical pain tests, pressure and heat pain thresholds (HPT), and tonic heat pain (THP) were conducted before and after exercise sessions Repeated measures ANOVA was used for data analysis HPT increased (p = 0056) and THP decreased (p = 0013) following exercise unrelated to exercise type However, the main time effect (pre-/postexercise) was a trend of increased HPT (456 ± 19 °C to 462 ± 18 °C; p = 0082) and a significant reduction in THP (from 507 ± 25 to 459 ± 254 numeric pain scale; p = 0043) following interval exercise No significant change was found for the pressure pain threshold following either exercise type In conclusion, interval exercise (85% HRR) has analgesic effects on experimental pain perception This, in addition to its cardiovascular, muscular, and metabolic advantages may promote its inclusion in pain management programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-834
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Continuous aerobic exercise
  • Exercise intensity
  • Exercise-induced analgesia
  • Interval aerobic exercise
  • Quantitative sensory testing (qst)
  • Stress-induced analgesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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