High Intensity Interval Training Quickly Boosts Glucose Metabolism
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been shown to enhance both glucose metabolism in muscles, and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
In typical HIIT workouts, short intervals of intense exercise alternate with short intervals of low to moderate activity. This type of training has a rapid influence on metabolism, and packs much benefit into short workout sessions.
Researchers in Finland were interested in the effects of HIIT on healthy individuals, and on those with diabetes. They first recruited healthy 40 to 60 year old men to participate for two weeks in either HIIT sessions, or moderate-intensity continuous workouts. Later, they did the same with people who had prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
“Before the training started, the glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity of the insulin resistant persons were significantly reduced compared to the group of healthy individuals,” said researcher Tanja Sjoros. “However, already after two weeks of high intensity training, which amounted to six training sessions, the glucose metabolism in the thigh muscles achieved the starting level of the healthy control group.”
During the study’s two-week training period, insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism also improved for those doing moderate intensity continuous training. However, the improvement was half that of the HIIT group. Moderate intensity exercise continued for longer periods would be necessary to match the HIIT results.
Another HIIT benefit for those with type 2 diabetes was increased endurance. Though endurance did not improve for the moderate-intensity exercisers, earlier research indicates that moderate-intensity training continued for more than two weeks does boost endurance.
“It's particularly good news that when it comes to the glucose metabolism and endurance it does not seem to matter in whether the exercise takes place over a longer period of time as moderate training or over a short period as high-interval training,” says Sjoros. “Everyone can choose the type of training that suits them best. In general, you can achieve the best results for your body by using both training methods.”
The researchers encourage those with diabetes to consult their doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.