Walking interval training could help with blood sugar control

Interval training, also called burst training, doesn't necessarily have to be extremely taxing in order to offer health benefits for diabetics, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that just an hour-long walk that included short bursts of higher-intensity movement improved participants' blood sugar levels much more than anticipated - whether the walk was performed on a treadmill or outdoors.

Steady walking might not do much

Participants in the study included 30 volunteers with type 2 diabetes who were in the age range of early 50s to early 60s.

The subjects were divided into three groups: The first group walked three minutes at a brisk pace and then walked three minutes at a normal pace, repeating this process for one hour. The second group walked at the same pace for an hour, while a third group maintained a daily routine that didn't include exercise at all.

The participants who did interval walking, said study author Thomas Solomon, showed a 20-percent improvement of glucose control compared with the non-exercisers. But even more surprising was that the subjects who walked at a steady pace didn't show any improvement in hemogloblin A1c levels or glucose disposal.

"This was somewhat surprising, considering that they were doing one hour of exercising a day for four months," said Solomon.

Short bursts require glucose

The improvements seen might be attributed to the fact that high-intensity bursts require more glucose usage in order to fuel muscles, Solomon said.

"It's this switch between the intensities that we think is critical here," he explained.

Previous research done by Solomon and his colleagues found interval walkers tend to lose more weight and have lower cholesterol levels more than normal-paced walkers.

"There are a number of studies that have shown that when you increase the intensity [of aerobic exercise] in the form of doing intervals, there's additional benefits beyond just the calories burned."

Source: NPR

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