Further research finds that short bursts of intensive exercise can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition, and also lose weight.
This new study, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, reports that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is effective at improving metabolic health, particularly in those at risk of or with type 2 diabetes.
These findings are the latest to highlight the benefits that this type of exercise can have for people with type 2 diabetes. Last year, Newcastle University found that short bursts of intense exercise can
improve heart structure and blood sugar levels in type 2 patients. Also in 2015, a small Canadian study reported
HIIT can reduce HbA1c levels and cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes; while Australian researchers observed that short bursts of more gentle physical activity can reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke and heart attack in people with type 2.
In this new research, the University of Leicester and the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) conducted a meta-analysis of 50 studies.
They searched databases for HIIT interventions based upon training that lasted longer than two weeks and adult participants and outcome measurements that included fasting glucose, insulin resistance, HbA1c or fasting insulin.
When compared to continuous training (CT) – or, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise – HIIT led to reduced insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes and those at high risk of the disease, as well as a greater average decrease in body weight. HIIT participants at risk of or with type 2 also experienced reductions in fasting glucose compared to CON participants.
Researcher Charlotte Jelleyman said: “HIIT may therefore be suitable as an alternative to continuous exercise training in the promotion of metabolic health and weight loss, particularly in those with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. However, more research is needed to determine both behavioural responses and clinical benefits over the longer term.”

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