Researchers studied 76 patients with type 2 diabetes randomly assigned to either 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week at 65% of their target heart rate, or 10 minutes of exercise 3 times per day, 5 days per week at 85% of their target heart rate. The “burst” exercisers experienced a 2.3-fold greater improvement in HbA1c and a 3-fold reduction in BMI, along with greater improvements in LDL-C, HDL-C, and triglyceride levels and stronger cardiac fitness, which was measured by stress testing.
It isn’t clear why burst exercise resulted in more significant cardiometabolic improvements than longer, low-intensity exercise. Lead study author Avinash Pandey suggested it may be due to higher intensity exercise using energy in a different way. “We are hoping to continue looking at burst exercise and sustained energy in larger and more diverse patient populations. With further study, burst exercise may become a viable alternative to the current standard of care of low-intensity, sustained exercise for diabetes rehabilitation,” he said.
Results were presented at the AHA’s Scientific Sessions November 7-11, 2015. Read more from the AHA Newsroom here.