A six-week CrossFit exercise programme led to improved insulin sensitivity and reduced heart disease risk in adults with type 2 diabetes, a study reveals.
CrossFit is a high-intensity endurance and strength training intervention – sessions range between 8-20 minutes – which has expanded in popularity in recent years.
Previous research has shown CrossFit helped strengthen beta cell function in people with type 2 diabetes, and these new findings indicate additional benefits.
A small cohort of 13 overweight or obese people with type 2 diabetes participated in the six-week programmen, where their blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity were assessed before and after the trial. Blood pressure and blood chemistries were also examined to predict heart disease risk.
Test results from after the intervention demonstrated improved insulin sensitivity, which is important for blood sugar control, and heart disease risk factors, which is significant because people with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease.
A noteworthy aspect of these findings is that the improvements were similar to changes expected from more conventional exercise interventions, while participants also spent much less time exercising than recommended by health guidelines – this is 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week.
The US researchers behind the study, however, have acknowledged the small sample size is a limitatio, as was that the participants were all middle aged. Consequently, they have urged caution over the findings when extending them to elderly people.
They added though the results pave the way for future studies investigating how high intensity exercise programmes could decrease insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.
The study findings appear in the journal Experimental Physiology.

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