2 Minutes of Intense Exercise a Week Prevents Diabetes: Study

By Nick Tate
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 03:10 PM

exerciseShare Just two minutes of intense, pulse-pounding exercise each week may be enough to prevent Type 2 diabetes, new research shows.

British researchers from Abertay University found that doing just two sessions of high-intensity training (HIT) weekly not only reduces the risk of developing diabetes, but is also as nearly as beneficial as engaging in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, Medical Xpress reports.

The findings, published in the journal Biology, are based on an analysis of overweight adults at high-risk of developing diabetes who took part in a HIT regime for a period of eight weeks. The workouts involved 10 sets of twice-weekly sprints on an exercise bike, with each sprint lasting just six seconds — for a total of just two minutes of exercise per week.

The short, but high-intensity workouts were enough to significantly improve cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity — the body’s ability to clear blood sugar from the bloodstream — in the participants. The researchers said it is the first time that so little exercise has been shown to have such significant health benefits.

“With this study, we investigated the benefits of high-intensity training (HIT) in a population group known to be at risk of developing diabetes: overweight, middle-aged adults,” said John Babraj, M.D., who heads up the high-intensity training research team at Abertay University.

“We found that not only does HIT reduce the risk of them developing the disease, but also that the regime needs to be performed only twice a week in order for them to reap the benefits. And you don’t have to be able to go at the speed of Usain Bolt when you’re sprinting. As long as you are putting your maximal effort into the sprints, it will improve your health.” He noted few people have the time or motivation to exercise at least 30 minutes every day.

“Lack of time to exercise, due to work or family commitments, is cited as the most common barrier to participation, so high-intensity training offers a really effective solution to this problem and has the added benefit of reducing disease risk which activities such as walking — even if done five days a week for 30 minutes — don’t offer,” he said. “There is a clear relationship between the intensity of exercise and the magnitude of health improvement, so it is only through these short, high-intensity sprints that health improvements can be seen.”
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