No more long hours at the gym: short interval training better for diabetes

Is it possible to get fit, lose weight and improve health while reducing your time spent exercising?

For diabetics or those prone to other chronic diseases, the answer may be yes.

A recent study published in The Journal of Physiology found that the same fitness and health results can be achieved in less than a third of the time normally recommended by health organizations.

HIT and sprints

The key, researchers say, is high intensity interval training (HIT) and sprint interval training (SIT). Professor Anton Wagenmakers and his colleagues from Liverpoool John Moores University (LJMU) and the University of Birmingham found that just three sessions of SIT--for a total of 90 minutes a week--were more effective in increasing insulin sensitivity than five sessions of traditional aerobic or endurance activities, like running or swimming.

Sam Shepherd, LJMU researcher, describes how SIT works:

SIT involves four to six repeated 30 second 'all out' sprints on special laboratory bikes interspersed with 4.5 minutes of very low intensity cycling. Due to the very high workload of the sprints, this method is more suitable for young and healthy individuals. However, anyone of any age or level of fitness can follow one of the alternative HIT programs which involve 15-60 second bursts of high intensity cycling interspersed with 2-4 minute intervals of low intensity cycling.

HIT can also be performed by mixing up strength-training and abdominal work exercises with bursts of cardio.

The insulin connection

LJMU researcher Matthew Cocks says that HIT and SIT seem to improve the delivery of insulin to the skeletal muscles, while also helping to burn fat stored in the fibers of the skeletal muscle. Patients on the HIT and SIT program also had a reduced stiffness in large arteries. Based on initial findings, the researchers say that these shorter but more intense exercise programs could help to prevent hypertension, diabetes and obesity-related diseases.

Another study at the University of Birmingham has shown that individuals who previously were non-active enjoyed HIT more than endurance exercises.

"This could imply that HIT is more suitable to achieve sustainable changes in exercise behavior," said Shepherd.

Source: Science Daily

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