No one doubts the benefits of regular exercise, particularly in those affected by diabetes.   Is there an alternative to walking for 30 minutes five times a week?

The benefits of regular physical exercise can not be overstated.  Simple walking controls blood pressure, improves glucose control, and diminishes the risk of cardiac disease.  Current guidelines as suggested by the American Diabetes Association ask patients to exercise 150 minutes per week, and include 2-3 days of resistance exercise as well.  Getting people to exercise 30 minutes a day to improve their lifespan and their quality of life should’t be asking too much… but apparently it is.  Very few people actually get the amount of physical activity they require.

High Intensity Interval Training  (HIT) hit the scene a few years back.  Many research papers show that short bursts of intense exercise often leads to the same benefits achieved with moderate exercise for 150 minutes per week.  The 7-minute workout has become a hit for many.   If you can’t exercise for 7 minutes (and you are physically capable of exercising) then you simply do not want to live a longer healthier life.

A paper was recently published which studied whether or not the benefits of high intensity interval training would extend to patients with type 2 Diabetes.  They studied sedentary obese individuals for 16 weeks using a three times a week HIIT based running routine.  There was a significant decrease in the amount of medication needed to control blood sugar, as well as significant improvements in:

  • blood pressure
  • body weight
  • BMI
  • HDL-cholesterol levels
  • endurance performance.

The authors concluded that low volume HIT performed 3 days a week may be a time-efficient intervention to treat Type 2 Diabetes.

Now.. in this study the researchers monitored the participants blood pressure, and oxygenation.   They were under the care of the medical team at all times.  So, do not put on your new kicks and head out and try to run an 8 minute mile.  Talk to your doctor, read about the Couch to 5 k program and the benefits of heart rate training which I have written about before.

Now go out and walk and think about this article :-) !



Disclaimer:  this information is for your education and should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Read the full disclaimer.

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About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

3 comments on “Should We Prescribe Exercise for Type 2 Diabetics ?

  • Who writes these headlines??? There are some questions for which the answers are non-controversial. “Should (fill in the blank) be advised to exercise?” is one.

    • I do :-) … The concept of “prescribing” exercise and which type was the focus of the post. Suggestions for other titles always welcome

  • It seems like a “prescription” for exercise has been shown to be beneficial in so many areas from orthopedics to cardiology to psychiatry that it should be axiomatic first line therapy unless there is a strong contraindicating condition. It seems we humans are designed to move (as any 5-year-old can demonstrate) and bad things happen when we stop. The headline seemed to be questioning the truth of this although the text was as you say a discussion of the type of exercise to prescribe.

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