As a competitive distance runner, have always found benefit in doing interval training. I knew it helped me run faster and race better. I recently came across a Finnish study published in the April 2017 issue of Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports concluded that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improves glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. It would be interesting to see if interval training can also improve diabetes and help pre-diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome from developing diabetes. Diabetes prevention may be another benefit from running and interval training
The team, from the University of Turku in Finland, was led by Kari Kalliokoski, a senior research fellow. Jarna Hannukainen served as project manager. In the study, researchers examined the effects of different types of exercise on the body’s ability to process glucose. Twenty-six participants in their 40s and 50s were selected for the two-week trial. One group already had healthy glucose metabolism. The second group included those with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
In each group, half of the participants were assigned HIIT exercise routines. The other half were assigned moderate intensity exercises. Six training sessions were completed during the two-week period.
At the beginning and end of the study, blood tests were completed that tested participants’ glucose and fatty acid uptake. These are measures of how well the body absorbs and processes sugar and fats in the blood stream.
In the final data analysis, all participants showed improvement in insulin sensitivity and the ability to metabolize glucose. However, those who completed HIIT workouts displayed a greater improvement than the moderate intensity participants. Researchers point out that any exercise can effectively reduce blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, but HIIT routines produce results more quickly.
HIIT involves performing intense anaerobic activities for a short period, usually 30 seconds. These intense spurts of activity are followed by several minutes of less intense recovery exercises.
Effects on Treatment of Diabetic Conditions
Previous studies have proven a link between regular exercise and improved glucose levels and metabolism. Choosing between HIIT or more moderate activities is a matter of personal preference. It is most important that the workouts be done regularly.
The study’s results support the idea that exercise is a simple, economical, and effective way to treat and prevent diabetic conditions. It also increases patient safety for those with co-occurring conditions, like cardiovascular disease. Exercise reduces the need for medication, which translates into less chance of dangerous drug interactions. Exercise also alleviates some of the less serious physical effects of diabetes, like mental fog and pain in the joints or muscles.
Researchers caution patients to check with their primary physician before starting an exercise routine. The research shows, exercise can lower blood sugar quickly. A person who is taking prescribed medication may need to have their dosage adjusted.
Source: Effects of 6-month aerobic interval training on skeletal muscle metabolism in middle-aged metabolic syndrome patients – Guadalupe-Grau – 2017 – Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports – Wiley Online Library