New research shows high intensity exercise reduces diabetes risk

6th July 2017

Regular high intensity exercise is one of the best ways to prevent type 2 diabetes, according to new research by Sheffield Hallam University.

A study led by Dr Trevor Simper, senior lecturer in food and nutrition at Sheffield Hallam University, found that regularly taking part in intense physical activity had a significant impact on the body's ability to tolerate glucose. The study involved 31 healthy adult volunteers, 23 women and eight men, who regularly carried out varying levels of physical activity - low activity, moderately active and very active. Participants took 50g of glucose and their blood glucose levels were then checked at regular intervals over the following two hours. The participants with the lowest level of activity had the highest peak of glucose in their blood and it took longer for it to return to normal; which indicates poorer glucose tolerance levels than the moderately active and very active groups. This spike and continued elevation an hour after consuming glucose are predictive of risk of type 2 diabetes. The study also found the moderately active and very active groups had similar results, with the exception of time to peak glucose which was much quicker in the very active group and the mean blood glucose level which was significantly lower. In the UK, 3.2million people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is more than double the number of people recognised as having the condition in 1996. Dr Simper, who is based in the University's Business School, said: "Physical activity has long been recognised as an effective preventative measure for type 2 diabetes and as a positive intervention post-diagnosis. "Any activity is beneficial but this study shows that intense activity and a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training has the most protective effects in relation to blood glucose control and diabetes risk. "It is important to find activity that individuals find most readily repeatable and attention should be focused on the most effective methods for helping people become and maintain being physically active." The research is published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science.

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