Exercise! Collectively we have a love-hate relationship with physical activity. Although it is hardly a profound revelation that exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, for people suffering from type 2 diabetes, exercise can be a life-changing component of their treatment plan.
A new study from the University of Turku has determined that high-intensity interval training has profound health effects on healthy people and diabetes alike.
The study was published April 10 in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. It involved the healthy men in their 40s and 50s who engaged in a two-week training program consisting of either HIIT or traditional, moderate intensity training.
Another group suffering from insulin resistance, elevated blood sugar levels, pre-diabetes and full- blown type 2 diabetes completed a similar two-week fitness routine.
“Before the training started, the glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity of the insulin resistant people were significantly reduced compared to the group of healthy individuals,” doctoral candidate Tanja Sjöros, explained.
However, after just two weeks of high-intensity exercise, which translated into six training sessions, the glucose metabolism in the thigh muscles of the group suffering from diabetic symptoms achieved the starting level of the healthy control group.
It’s essential that a diabetic’s blood glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity improve so that diabetics can avoid nerve and blood vessel damage, which can confound their health and result in countless complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations.
But, here’s the good news. Glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity began to improve following the high-intensity training and the moderate intensity continuous training. Ergo both types of exercise are helpful, although the high-intensity formula is the more effective of the two.
“The group that did moderate intensity training achieved only half of the improvement experienced by the HIIT group during the two-week period. Therefore, this type of training requires a longer period of time. If you have only little time to spare, high-interval training could be a great alternative to traditional training that requires more time but is lower in intensity,” Sjöros insists.
Leading New York cardiologist Jennifer Haythe, MD, responded positively following the release of the results. “This is an important study demonstrating the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics,” she notes. “Unlike type 1 diabetics who have an absence of endogenous insulin, type 2 diabetics have impaired insulin sensitivity leading to delayed and inadequate uptake and metabolism of glucose. The fact that HIIT can actually improve insulin uptake and sensitivity is terrific news for Type 2 diabetics. In addition, HIIT improved endurance. This is just more evidence that exercise, in this case, HIIT, improves health and wellness, and can actually work like medication in patients with DM2.”