Why your patients with prediabetes might benefit from interval training

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

Being more active is an important part of treatment for patients with prediabetes. Exercise is one of the simplest and most effective ways to bring down blood-glucose levels, cut the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve overall health and well-being. But which exercise works best in improving outcomes for patients with prediabetes? One study suggests interval training.

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The AMA’s Diabetes Prevention Guide supports physicians and health care organizations in defining and implementing evidence-based diabetes prevention strategies. This comprehensive and customized approach helps clinical practices and health care organizations identify patients with prediabetes and manage the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including referring patients at risk to a National Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle-change program based on their individual needs.

A study, “Two Weeks of Interval Training Enhances Fat Oxidation during Exercise in Obese Adults with Prediabetes,” published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, found that two weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), results in enhanced fat oxidation at the same relative intensity after training compared with moderate continuous intensity training in adults with obesity and prediabetes.

Findings from this study suggest that training-induced increases in oxidative capacity may contribute to cardiometabolic risk reduction, showing that interval training is an effective therapy to prevent and delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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Through HIIT, glucose control is improved more accurately and over a longer period. This form of exercise also helps with lowering abdominal fat and increasing lower-body muscle mass. HIIT exercises like aerobics or interval jogging for about 30 minutes three to five times a week can help to manage prediabetes.

Here is why your patients with prediabetes and obesity might benefit from interval training exercises for increased activity.

Lack of time is the most commonly reported barrier to regular exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIIT’s shorter periods of intense exercise followed by varied recovery can be a timesaver for those with busy schedules, opening the door to more workout options.

This allows for shorter periods of vigorous exercise compared with continuous exercises like jogging. With a range of time needed, workouts can last from 10 minutes to an hour, allowing the ability to more easily fit into the patient’s schedule before or after work.

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This type of workout will vary from person to person and according to the activity performed. Intense bursts of physical activity should be tailored to a person’s current health and fitness level.

For example, interval training can be applied to walking, running, cycling, swimming or any burst of activity that involves raising a person’s heart rate above 70% maximum heart rate followed by periods of rest. The intense periods of exercise range from a few seconds to eight minutes in length with recovery periods lasting just as long—usually lowering a person’s heart rate to about 50% maximum.

With a variety of interval training workouts to choose from, there is an exercise option out there for just about everyone. This means it could help people who are exercising at a lower level, such as less intensity.

Some of the physical benefits of interval training include heart and blood vessel health, improved blood pressure, less insulin resistance, better cholesterol levels, decreased abdominal fat and enhanced weight loss.

A healthy way for patients to lose weight and remain active is through participation in a National Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle-change program.