Interval training model for universities: mental/ emotional health benefits analysis

O.A. Safonova1
PhD, Associate Professor A.A. Germanova2
PhD, Associate Professor O.V. Mironova3
1Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Saint Petersburg
2Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, St. Petersburg
3Bobkov Saint Petersburg branch of Russian Customs Academy, St. Petersburg

Corresponding author: safonov812@yandex.ru

Abstract

Objective of the study was to analyze the mental/ emotional health and physical working capacity benefits of an interval training model complementary to the regular academic physical education and sports service.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled for the study the 17-19 year-old 2-year Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPSUACE) students (n=120) and split them up into Experimental and Reference Groups (EG, RG) of 60 people each. The EG was subject to the new interval training model testing experiment in the 3rd semester (September-November) of 2019-2020 academic year. The interval training model of our own design is dominated by the general and strength endurance exercises grouped into two modules. Every module was designed to activate as many muscle groups as possible, avoid monotony and develop expressed albeit modest fatigue.

Module 1 offered the shoulder girdle strength training exercises including prone push-ups, 16kg kettlebell both-hands swinging exercise; 16kg kettlebell lifting to the chin; 16kg bench press; trunk training exercises including alternating-grip pull-ups; sit-ups; and hyperextension practices; plus the leg muscles training exercises including squats and front/ side/ back lunges. The women’s subgroup used 2/ 3/ 4kg fitballs as weights in the above exercises; and men also used 5/ 10kg dumbbells. Every exercise was run 4 times for 40s, with 60s rest breaks. Every run included at least 10 reps in the first week, 15 reps in the third and 20 reps in the fifth week. The trainings were run in groups of 3-4 people, with every training session launched at a specific station to go in circles with the group swaps of the stations in the training gym.

Module 2 offered running practices including 10+min moderate-intensity jogging in week 2 to 30min jogging in week 6, with Fartlek intervals (health-sensitive 50-100m sprints) and repeated 10-15m accelerations in couples; with five to eight reps in week 2 to week 6, respectively; plus special sprint and middle-distance running technique excellence exercises in untraditional formats (sideway running and jumping; multidirectional limb workouts; exercises in couples, etc.).

The group mental/ emotional health was tested by the pre- versus post-experimental WAM tests and academic progress analysis (semester 2 versus semester 3).

Results and Conclusion. The new interval training model testing experiment found the model being beneficial for the students’ mental/ emotional health standards. The pre- versus post-experimental WAM tests and academic progress analysis found the EG making significant progress in every test versus the RG, i.e. in the wellbeing, activity and mood collectively referred to as the individual health status. It should be mentioned that the highest progresses in the WAM tests were made by the sporting individuals committed for the academic physical education and sports. The study findings give grounds for us to recommend the new interval training model as complementary to the regular academic physical education and sports curriculum.

Keywords: muscular tone, mental/ emotional health, interval training, physical exercises.

Background. Well-designed systemic academic physical education and sports service is known to secure good physical fitness, mental/ emotional and physical health as a basis for good physical (physical working capacity) and intellectual working capacity. Many past and modern studies have proved a direct correlation of the mental/ emotional health and physical health, with the students tested with low physical working capacity reportedly more exposed to mental/ emotional stressors and, hence, they either leave the university or try to cope with the stressors at sacrifice of the bodily adaptation mechanisms that often collapse under stress. The higher is the academic physical working capacity, the higher is the data digesting and processing and decision-making capacity, plus the stress tolerance under academic pressures on the whole and examination stresses in particular [1-3].

Objective of the study was to analyze the mental/ emotional health and physical working capacity benefits of an interval training model complementary to the regular academic physical education and sports service.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled for the study the 17-19 year-old 2-year Saint Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPSUACE) students (n=120) and split them up into Experimental and Reference Groups (EG, RG) of 60 people each. The Experimental Group was subject to the new interval training model testing experiment in the 3rd semester (September-November) of 2019-2020 academic year. The interval training model of our own design is dominated by the general and strength endurance exercises grouped into two modules. Every module was designed to activate as many muscle groups as possible, avoid monotony and develop expressed albeit modest fatigue.

Module 1 offered the shoulder girdle strength training exercises including prone push-ups, 16kg kettlebell both-hands swinging exercise; 16kg kettlebell lifting to the chin; 16kg bench press; trunk training exercises including alternating-grip pull-ups; sit-ups; and hyperextension practices; plus the leg muscles training exercises including squats and front/ side/ back lunges. The women’s subgroup used 2/ 3/ 4kg fitballs as weights in the above exercises; and men also used 5/ 10kg dumbbells. Every exercise was run 4 times for 40s, with 60s rest breaks. Every run included at least 10 reps in the first week, 15 reps in the third and 20 reps in the fifth week. The trainings were run in groups of 3-4 people, with every training session launched at a specific station to go in circles with the group swaps of the stations in the training gym.

Module 2 offered running practices including 10+min moderate-intensity jogging in week 2 to 30min jogging in week 6, with Fartlek intervals (health-sensitive 50-100m sprints) and repeated 10-15m accelerations in couples; with five to eight reps in week 2 to week 6, respectively; plus special sprint and middle-distance running technique excellence exercises in untraditional formats (sideway running and jumping; multidirectional limb workouts; exercises in couples, etc.).

The group mental/ emotional health was tested by the pre- versus post-experimental WAM tests and academic progress analysis (semester 2 versus semester 3).

Results and discussion. The pre-experimental mental/ emotional health tests were run in week 1 upon a briefing; and the post-experimental tests in week 13 prior to the academic progress tests. The pre-experimental tests found insignificant intergroup differences, with both groups tested low on average in every test due to multiple objective and subjective factors, including: higher workloads as compared to year 1; faster information flows; living and dieting issues; psychological adjustments to cope with pressures on adaptation systems after the summer holidays; new socializing challenges often fraught with interpersonal frictions; new freedoms associated with growing responsibilities; individual rehabilitation statuses upon the summer holidays; adjustments to the academic stressors, etc.: see Figure 1.

Figure 1. Pre-experimental WAM test data

The pre- versus post-experimental tests found the following average progress in the EG versus RG: wellbeing rose by 2.8±1.0 points versus 1.0 points; activity by 3.4±2.0 points versus 1.3±1.2 points; and mood by 3.0±1.1 points versus 1.1±1.0 points, respectively.

Figure 2. Post-experimental WAM test data

The pre- versus post-experimental academic progress analysis found the EG making progress by 1.1 points versus 0.3 points in the RG on average: see Figure 3.

Figure 3. Group academic progress for the experimental period

Conclusion. The new interval training model testing experiment found the model being beneficial for the students’ mental/ emotional health standards. The pre- versus post-experimental WAM tests and academic progress analysis found the EG making significant progress in every test versus the RG, i.e. in the wellbeing, activity and mood collectively referred to as the individual health status. It should be mentioned that the highest progress in the WAM tests were made by the sporting individuals committed for the academic physical education and sports. The study findings give grounds for us to recommend the new interval training model as complementary to the regular academic physical education and sports curriculum.

References

  1. Lukina S.M. Lobanov Yu.Ya., Sharonova A.V. Innovative technologies for academic physical education and sport service. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2019. No.4. pp. 44-46.
  2. Safonova O.A., Dementyev K.N., Germanova A.A. Building strength endurance in female civil engineering students. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2020. No. 12. pp. 35-37.
  3. Safonova O.A., Kadyrov R.M., Dementiev K.N. Intellectual performance improving integrated physical training algorithm for academic physical education. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2019. No. 11. pp. 62-64.