For type 2 diabetics, their main concern is to control their blood glucose–something that, over time, can also reduce their risk of diabetes-related complications as they age.
One way to control it is through regular exercise. But which type of exercise is best for diabetics?
Researchers from the University in Copenhagen decided to investigate–and found that a certain type of exercise reigned supreme.
The exercise? Interval walking.
“Traditionally, high-intensity exercise has not been recommended for individuals with type 2 diabetes due to a fear of inducing injuries and lowering adherence,” write researchers in the journal Diabetologia. “Nevertheless, high-intensity exercise improves glycaemic [sic] control more than low-intensity exercise. In this context, we have shown that interval walking training (IWT) more favourably [sic] improves glycaemic [sic] control in type 2 diabetic individuals when compared with energy expenditure-matched continuous walking training (CWT).”
The study, which now appears in Diabetologia, split a group of adults with type 2 diabetes into 3 groups: A control group, an IWT group, and a CWT group. Both exercise groups were told to exercise for 60 minutes a day five days per week, though the training sessions were not supervised. The other group, known as the control group, didn’t exercise at all.
Naturally, the control group didn’t improve their blood glucose, which was confirmed by measuring their blood glucose before and after the 4 month trial period.
However, when the two exercise groups had their blood glucose measured, there was a distinct difference: Blood glucose readings only improved among those in the IWT, or the interval walking, group.
The group that exercised regularly at a steady pace, however, didn’t improve at all, proving that the interval training itself was responsible for the improvement.
While this isn’t the first time interval training has been shown to improve blood glucose markers, it’s one of the first to show it may be the only exercise method to do so.
“The lack of changes in the CWT group is surprising and is in disagreement with other studies,” write researchers. “The most important finding of this study is that IWT, but not CWT, increased insulin sensitivity without a compensatory decrease in insulin secretion, thus improving the overall impact of insulin on blood sugar in these patients.”
As for what this means for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean non-interval exercises aren’t healthy–but if you want to lower your blood glucose as well, you’re better off doing interval training instead. However, due to the strain it causes on the body, you’re better off asking your local healthcare practitioner first to see if this exercise method is ideal for you.
Readers: Have you tried interval training before? If so, how did it work out for you?
Why Interval Walking Training is Better Than Continuous Walking Training – ScienceDaily.com
Mechanisms Behind the Superior Effects of Interval vs Continuous Training on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetics (Study) – Springer.com