Diabetics can benefit from high intensity exercise
Individuals with type 2 diabetes may be able to reverse some early cardiac changes caused by the disease with short bursts of high-intensity exercise, according to a new study.
During the study, 23 type 2 diabetes patients ranging in age from 45 to 71 years old were randomly assigned 12 weeks of high-intensity exercise, while the 11 other patients continued with traditional treatment of diabetes.
Researchers found that those participating in high-intensity exercise, which consisted of 90-second bursts of intense cycling, raised their heart rates more quickly, and the participants’ heart structure and function significantly improved.
“This is a little different than what we have been training patients on,” says Dr. Abbas Rampurawala, a cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. “What we have been advising, especially as diabetic patients get older, is that brisk walking should be enough.”
The bursts of activity particularly benefit the heart’s main pump, making it stronger and more efficient. The exercise also has a small improvement in the participants’ diabetes control.
“For diabetics, the physiology behind it is when you have high-intensity episodes, you use up glucose [sugar] in the blood and glycogen [carbohydrates] in the muscles instead of performing slower exercises that use fat,” Dr. Rampurawala says.
Researchers encourage those with diabetes, regardless of whether they have heart problems, to start exercising.
“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,” said study researchers.
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