When it comes to your health, exercise matters–and a lot of it.
But what type of exercise is ideal?
Research recently published in Diabetologia attempted to figure this question out, specifically examining those with type 2 diabetes.
And the result? It’s surprising–the shorter your workout, the better.
“This study demonstrates, for the first time, that exercise can begin to reverse some of the early cardiac changes that are commonly found in people with type 2 diabetes,” write researchers in the online version of Diabetologia. “Interestingly, the data also suggest that this type of high intensity intermittent exercise benefits both the heart and diabetes control, but the benefits appear to be greatest in the heart.”
Intermittent exercise, sometimes referred to as HIIT, is a type of workout where people exercise in short one-to-two minute spurts, repeated over and over for 15 to 20 minutes. Experts believe it can help people burn off fat, but this wasn’t the focus of the researchers’ study.
Instead, they wanted to see how this specifically benefited those with type 2 diabetes, a risk group that highly benefits from regular exercise.
To test it out, 23 participants with the disease were recruited, split up into two groups to complete two different exercise routines: Intermittent exercise or a regular diabetes care plan. Participants were told to continue each plan for a total of 12 weeks while researchers recorded how it affected their cardiac structure and function.
By the end of the experiment, researchers found that intermittent exercise significantly improved these factors, including the heart’s left ventricle–a crucial part of the heart’s functioning.
“The strong positive effect of exercise on the heart is, although completely logical, a message that needs to be communication to people with type 2 diabetes more clearly,” write researchers. “The data reinforce how important a physically active lifestyle is for people with type 2 diabetes. Our findings also suggest that exercise does not have to be 30 minutes of continuous exercise –repeated short bouts of higher intensity exercise give strong benefits to the heart.”
So if you want to be healthier–or at least make your heart healthier in the process–your best bet is intermittent exercise.
“Getting more physically active is, quite literally, at the heart of good diabetes control,” they write.
What This Means For You
Trying to get healthy? Research shows for type 2 diabetics, intermittent exercise matters the most when it comes to your heart. Better yet, you can incorporate any sort of exercise into this technique, whether that’s running, speed walking, or even cycling–so there’s no excuse to try it out! To start, trading off 2 minutes of intense exercise with 1 minute of rest is a good way to get into the habit; repeat it several times for optimal results.
Readers: Have you ever tried intermittent exercise before?