HAMILTON, Ontario — Short bursts of exercise appear to lower blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes, researchers at Canada's McMaster University have found.
The researchers found that brief, high-intensity workouts — as little as six sessions over a two-week period — rapidly lower blood sugar levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Study participants who got 30 minutes of high-intensity intermittent exercise per week, involving a total time commitment of 75 minutes, lowered their 24-hour blood sugar concentrations, reduced blood sugar spikes after meals and increased the mitochondrial capacity of their skeletal muscles.
"These findings are intriguing because they suggest that exercising very strenuously for short periods of time may provide many of the same health benefits as traditional exercise training," McMaster kinesiology professor and lead study author Martin Gibala said. "This is the first study to show that intense interval training may be a potent, time-efficient strategy to improve glycemic regulation in people with Type 2 diabetes."
Subjects were given blood sugar tests over a 24-hour period and biopsies of thigh muscle. Their workouts involved riding a stationary bike for 10 bouts of 60 seconds at about 90% of maximal heart rate, with one minute between each burst of exercise. Including warm-up and cool-down, each training session lasted 25 minutes.