Short On Time? Quick Workouts Can Improve Diabetes

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Diabetes, Blood Sugar
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Short, brisk walks can help to keep your blood sugar in check.If you have trouble finding the time to exercise, here’s good news. New research that appeared in the latest edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that brief, high-intensity workouts can decrease blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the study, which was conducted at McMaster University in Canada, researchers had participants ride a stationary bike for ten intervals of 60-seconds each, at 90 percent of their maximum heart rate. The sessions included a warm-up and cool down, with one minute breaks between intervals.

What the researchers found is that just six of these high-intensity workouts over a two week period reduced the participants’ 24-hour blood sugar concentrations. Plus, it reduced blood sugar spikes following meals.

What’s the take-away for you? This study confirms something I’ve written about many times, namely that exercise not only lowers your blood sugar level at the time you're active, it also increases your body's overall sensitivity to insulin.

A brisk 10-minute walk alone has been shown to lower blood sugar levels dramatically in some people, and if it's done after a meal it can help prevent the elevation in blood sugar that is so common among people with diabetes after eating.

But if you haven’t already been exercising, don’t begin with high-intensity workouts. Instead, start with 10-20 minute walks at a moderate pace—walking more briskly over time. Also, if you have blood sugar levels over 300, I don't recommend strenuous exercise until this level is reduced. For the majority of patients with diabetes, though, exercise is as important as any other aspect of their treatment regimen.

Now it’s your turn: What type of exercise do you like to do?

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