Exercise before meals could help stabilize blood sugar levels

Short bursts of intense exercise before eating could help people with insulin resistance normalize their blood sugar levels, according to a new study.

Just 10-12 minutes of these "exercise snacks" – six 1-minute bursts of intense exercise separated by 1 minute of slow walking between the bursts – was shown to be more effective at controlling blood sugar than a 30-minute session of moderate exercise, report researchers in the journal Diabetologia.

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"Spreading exercise out across the day in high-energy bursts, particularly before breakfast and dinner, is important for controlling blood glucose throughout the whole day," study researcher Dr. Jim Cotter, associate professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, told Live Science. "If you are sedentary for most of the day, 30 minutes of moderate exercise – a medium-paced walk, for example – is not enough."

Strength and cardio both work

The study, which included nine people with insulin resistance between the ages of 18 and 55, also found that these bursts can be beneficial if they're cardio- or strength-based.

Also, the reduction in blood sugar levels was consistent for 24 hours after the activity, the researchers noted.

According to Dr. John Higgins, exercise physiologist and sports cardiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the study suggests that people with insulin resistance may indeed benefit from these bursts of exercise before meals, but the question now is to determine why.

"Are the beneficial effects on blood glucose strictly from the high-intensity exercise, or is there something else involved?" he said.

The timing of the exercise or the subsequent release of hormones into the body might be factors to consider, he concluded.

Source: MNN

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