UBC researchers demonstrate the impact of just one training session
We all know that pushing yourself through that intense cardio workout is good for your heart. But new research coming out of UBC’s Okanagan campus demonstrates that high intensity interval training (HIIT) can actually help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Studies by Assist. Prof. Jonathan Little, with UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences, are among the first to show that HIIT impacts the inflammatory response seen in people with Type 2 diabetes and improves glucose levels in the blood.
“What our findings show is that HIIT can improve blood sugar and reduce inflammation at the level of individual cells in people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes,” says Little. “In addition to a proper diet, the evidence demonstrates that this style of exercise can be identified as a significant risk-reduction factor.”
Little’s research is supported by a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institute of Health Research. He has also collaborated with the Canadian Diabetes Association webinar series. His latest webinar Why We Should Exercise strives to help people take the first, and often the hardest step inside the gym.
“As diabetes rates continue to increase in Canada and worldwide, education around prevention is key,” says Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer of the Canadian Diabetes Association. “It is encouraging to see research like this, which is aimed at overcoming the barriers people experience in making the lifestyle changes needed to reduce the risk of diabetes.”
HIIT burst into the workout scene a few years ago and is a novel form of time-efficient exercise involving short bursts of high intensity activity separated by short periods of rest. Research shows that HIIT can be adapted to people of all fitness levels.
Once thought of as an exercise strategy for athletes, Little’s research has adapted HIIT for people with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes and suggests that people may be more inclined to stick with HIIT as opposed to other types of exercise.
The majority of people participating in Little’s research walked briskly uphill or picked up the pace on an exercise portion in the high intensity portion of their workout. Participants typically followed a one-minute on, one-minute off protocol that was repeated between four to 10 times for a total workout time of between 15 to 20 minutes including warm up and cool down.
“Lack of time is the number one reason people cite for not engaging in regular exercise,” says Little. “People also do not tend to stick to an exercise regime that they do not enjoy. Beyond the evidence that people with Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes can do this type of time-efficient exercise and enjoy it, we are starting to see that they can stick to HIIT on their own, over longer terms outside of the lab.”
To learn more about Little’s research and the diabetes webinars, visit:
- November is international diabetes month.
- Today, there are more than 10 million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.
- Diabetes is a chronic, often debilitating and sometimes fatal disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces.
- Diabetes complications are associated with premature death. It is estimated that one in 10 deaths in Canadian adults was attributable to diabetes in 2008/09.
- People with diabetes are three times more likely to be hospitalized with cardiovascular disease.
- Key findings by the International Diabetes Federation show that 415 million people worldwide have diabetes and that by 2035 this will rise to 592 million.