Better Fitness for Our Hearts and Blood Glucose

David Mendosa Health Guide February 23, 2012
  • Most people say they don’t have enough time to get the exercise that the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association say we need to protect our hearts and manage our diabetes. Their standard recommendation of 30 minutes a day five times a week works out to 2 ½ hours a week. And that doesn’t count the time it takes to get to the trail or the gym.

     

    When we work one or more full-time jobs, interact with our family and friends, relax and sleep a little, we often feel like we don’t have any time left to work out. If only we could find a shortcut!

     

    Now, however, some researchers have the answer. By trading intensity for time we can much more efficiently get the physical activity we all need.

     

    The trick is a new twist on the interval training that almost all competitive athletics use to build up their speed and endurance. The usual interval training combines bursts of high-intensity exercise with longer periods of regular intensity exercise. A former girlfriend who is both a Certified Diabetes Educator and an athlete taught me that several years ago, and I recommended it then inEfficient Exercise for Glucose Control.” 

     

    That’s fine, but the new twist is better for busy people. Skip the regular exercise.

     

    This is the efficient exercise formula that four researchers at a Canadian University developed. Their study, "Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease," appears in a recent issue of The Journal of Physiology.

     

    They worked with people who weren’t fit and others who had heart problems. The volunteers did just one minute of pushing themselves to about 90 percent of their maximum heart rate followed by a minute of recovery repeated 10 times. After several weeks of this practice they had “significant improvement” in both their health and fitness.

     

    Not surprisingly, the volunteers liked this formula a lot better than a control group doing regular intensity exercise that had to spend a lot more time working out. And a small follow-up study shows that people with type 2 diabetes can also control their blood glucose level with this formula.

     

    These people with diabetes had lower blood glucose levels after their meals through the next day. This study, Acute high-intensity interval exercise reduces the postprandial glucose response and prevalence of hyperglycaemia in patients with type 2 diabetes,” appears in a recent issue of Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism.

    But what if you are one of those people who can make the time for more exercise? Don’t stop.

     

    I will keep on getting out in nature a lot, as I wrote earlier this week on my "Fitness and Photography for Fun" blog in my review of "The Nature Principle." By hiking slowly -- but a lot longer -- I get the exercise I need and at the same time I get my nature fix.