Can Just A Few Minute of Exercise a Day Prevent Diabetes?

Posted on December 17, 2011  Comments (9)

That just 1 minute of exercise a day could help prevent diabetes seems to good to be true. But research at the University of Bath indicates it might be true. I am a bit of a soft touch for seeing the benefits of exercise. And I also love health care that focuses on achieving healthy lives instead of what most of the spending focuses on: treating illness.

Performing short cycle sprints three times a week could be enough to prevent and possibly treat Type 2 diabetes researchers at the University of Bath believe.

Volunteers were asked to perform two 20-second cycle sprints, three times per week (but really this works out to under 10 minutes of total time including warm up). After six weeks researchers saw a 28% improvement in their insulin function. Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood sugar 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 has huge costs (monetarily and to people’s lives).

Regular exercise can help keep blood sugar levels low but busy lifestyles and lack of motivation mean 66% 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.

This type of study is very helpful in identifying solutions that will allow more people to lead healthy lives and save our economies large amount of money. Medical studies can’t be accepted on face value. They are often not confirmed by future studies and therefore it is unwise to rely on the results of 1 study. The results provide interesting information but need to be confirmed (and in the area of studies on human health this has been shown to be problematic – are health is quite a tricky area to study).

Related: Aerobic Exercise Plus Resistance Training Helps Control Type 2 DiabetesRegular Exercise Reduces FatigueFood Rules: An Eater’s Manual

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… 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 (I don’t link to closed science), is now being extended with more volunteers to determine if the exercise sessions can be made even shorter.

See full press release

9 Responses to “Can Just A Few Minute of Exercise a Day Prevent Diabetes?”

  1. Daniel Staiculescu
    December 19th, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    I think it can if you combine exercises with healthy food without extra sugar or fat

  2. Anonymous
    December 19th, 2011 @ 11:44 am

    I find stuff like this really interesting, perhaps more so for me because I studied Biology at University of Bath! I have heard something like this before, that short bouts of really high intensity exercise can maintain fitness and have other beneficial effects. For those that are inactive they might have difficulty getting to that intensity though I would imagine.

  3. Natasha
    December 19th, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    This is a very interesting article. The health benefits of regular exercise are staggering but so many choose to live a sedentary lifestyle. I find exercise is addictive, and once you start you feel the benefits and, for me at least, I feel that my day is not complete unless I get in my 45 minutes on the treadmill!

  4. Anonymous
    January 2nd, 2012 @ 4:04 am

    it can even TREAT type 2 diabet?
    well, this would be a amazingly good news for many people!

  5. JJ
    January 2nd, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    Interesting post. It’s staggering the benefits exercise can provide. It should be intense though, combined with a good diet.

  6. peter
    March 5th, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

    2 hour after supper my gikemia level was 130 mg%

    after fast( 2km in 6 minutes) bicycle riding only 82 mg%

  7. RC
    April 3rd, 2012 @ 6:04 am

    A T2 diabetic friend of mine is having good results with this. I’ve been following the 30mins/day cardio and a similar meal plan to his and my results are good too, though his are slightly better.

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  9. William
    February 27th, 2014 @ 7:48 pm

    Interesting article, but im having a really hard time understanding how it would be possible? But then again, we are talking about prevention and not about treating a disease.

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