While high-intensity exercise has a number of benefits for people trying to lose weight or for those who have less time for daily exercise, as per a new study, high-intensity workout sessions can help to improve heart function in people with type-2 diabetes.
According to the study published in the journal ‘Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise’, three months of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improved heart function in adults with type-2 diabetes, without any change in medications or diet.
Genevieve Wilson, who carried out the study under the supervision of Dr Chris Baldi, with Gerry Wilkins as her co-advisor, said, “Our research has found that exercise at sufficiently high intensity may provide an inexpensive, practical way to reverse, or reduce the loss in heart function caused by type-2 diabetes.”
HIIT involves short intervals of near maximal effort exercise like sprinting or stair climbing, separated by intervals of moderate intensity exercise, like jogging, or fast walking.
The goal was for people to spend 10 minutes doing very vigorous activity during a 25-minute workout session.
Dr Baldi said that the incidence of type-2 diabetes continues to increase and the prolonged management of the disease is crippling healthcare systems worldwide.
According to the 2010 NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), although physical activity (PA) is a key element in the prevention and management of type-2 diabetes, many with this chronic disease do not become or remain regularly active.
‘High-quality studies establishing the importance of exercise and fitness in diabetes were lacking until recently, but it is now well established that participation in regular PA improves blood glucose control and can prevent or delay type-2 diabetes, along with positively affecting lipids, blood pressure, cardiovascular events, mortality, and quality of life.’
Increasing aerobic capacity through exercise is arguably the best prevention for heart disease and exercise is a cornerstone of diabetic treatment. However, the impaired function of the diabetic heart often makes it harder for people with diabetes to exercise effectively.
However, the study showed that the high-intensity exercise programme for middle-aged adults with type-2 diabetes was safe and acceptable and also well-attended, with a greater than 80 per cent adherence rate over the three months.
“There are two important clinical implications of this work. The first, that adults with type-2 diabetes will adhere to high-intensity interval training and are capable of comparable increases in aerobic capacity and left ventricular exercise response as those reported in non-diabetic adults,” Dr Baldi explained.
“Secondly, high-intensity exercise is capable of reversing some of the changes in heart function that seem to precede diabetic heart disease,” he added.
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