Just one minute of exercise a day could prevent diabetes researchers find

Dr. Niels Vollaard and a volunteer

(Medical Xpress) -- Volunteers were asked to perform two 20-second cycle sprints, three times per week for researchers in the University’s Department for Health

After six weeks researchers saw a 28 per cent improvement in their insulin function.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when levels build up to dangerously high levels due to reduced insulin function, often caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

The condition can cause life-threatening complications to the heart, kidneys, eyes and limbs, and costs the NHS £1 million an hour in treatments and care.

Regular can help keep blood sugar levels low but busy lifestyles and lack of motivation mean 66 per cent of the population is not getting the recommended five 30-minute sessions of moderate exercise a week.

Dr. Niels Vollaard  who is leading the study, said: “Our muscles have sugar stores, called glycogen, for use during exercise. To restock these after exercise the muscle needs to take up sugar from the blood. In inactive people there is less need for the muscles to do this, which can lead to poor sensitivity to insulin, high blood sugar levels, and eventually type 2 diabetes.”

“We already knew that very intense sprint training can improve insulin sensitivity but we wanted to see if the exercise sessions could be made easier and shorter.”

In the study the resistance on the exercise bikes could be rapidly increased so volunteers were able to briefly exercise at much higher intensities than they would otherwise be able to achieve. With an undemanding warm-up and cool-down the total time of each session was only 10 minutes.

Dr. Vollaard said: “We know of no quicker and easier way of getting the muscles to use glycogen than with the short sprints we used in our study. These sprints break down as much glycogen in 20 seconds as moderate endurance exercise would in an hour.”

He added: “This is completely new. No one has ever found a programme this easy and short to provide health benefits. At the moment it has only been done in lab conditions but it would be easy to create a bike that does this in a gym setting. It could even be done in the workplace.”

This type of exercise is not suitable for weight loss as the sprints are too short to burn many calories, but it was shown to improve general fitness.

The study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, is now being extended with more volunteers to determine if the exercise sessions can be made even shorter.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Regular sprints boost metabolism

Jan 28, 2009

A regular high-intensity, three-minute workout has a significant effect on the body’s ability to process sugars. Research published in the open access journal BMC Endocrine Disorders shows that a brief but intense exerci ...

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

18 hours ago

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

19 hours ago

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

Infertility, surrogacy in India

19 hours ago

Infertility is a growing problem worldwide. A World Health Organization report estimates that 60-to-80 million couples worldwide currently suffer from infertility.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
2.5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
So the total time of exercise was really 10 minutes, not 20 seconds. If they took away the warm up and cool down periods and repeated the experiment they would have a completely different picture. Maybe even a few heart attacks.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.