Published on 19 February 2016

Exercising in short bursts could help prevent, delay and manage type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

In addition to saving more time, researchers found that intensive spells of activity could also help people lose weight.

The results of the research from the University of Leicester and the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) was recently published in the journal Obesity Reviews.

Researchers have found that short bursts of high intensity exercise can help to keep weight down and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes

More than 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are classed as overweight or obese – with diet and physical activity interventions recommended for management of both conditions.

Researchers found that small amounts of vigorous activity in quick succession was a more “effective” method of exercise compared to longer spells and gave the body the best chance to use and store blood sugar.

While the effects of exercise on type 2 diabetes and improving the body’s ability to use insulin to absorb blood sugar have been proved in the past, less is known about the impact on weight regulation.

NHS guidelines for weight loss suggest that 200 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week are required for long-term reductions, but previous research found that only 5% of people in some industrialised countries manage to get his amount of exercise.

Study authors proposed high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as an alternative method of physical activity to help weight loss.

Researcher Charlotte Jelleyman said: “This study involved a meta-analysis of experimental research, allowing us to pull together evidence and establish cause and effect. We have demonstrated that HIIT conveys benefits to cardio-metabolic health which in the cases of insulin resistance and aerobic fitness may be superior to the effect of traditional continuous training.

“HIIT may therefore be suitable as an alternative to continuous exercise training in the promotion of metabolic health and weight loss, particularly in those with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. However, given the identified limitations, more research is needed to determine both behavioural responses and clinical benefits over the longer term.”

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