Q+A: HIIT and Prediabetes

HIIT and Prediabetes

by Tony Nuñez, PhD

About 35% of U.S. adults have prediabetes and are at high risk for future development of type 2 diabetes. Research from the Diabetes Prevention Program shows that moderate-intensity exercise for 150 minutes a week can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by about 58%. And other research suggests the cardiometabolic benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exceed those of moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT).

Of course, no exercise program helps if people don’t stick with it, so what’s the best choice?

A 2015 study explored HIIT’s sustainability for people with prediabetes by comparing their adherence to HIIT vs. MICT. The study’s 32 volunteers (aged 30–60) all had prediabetes. Separated into exercise groups of 15 and 17, participants spent 2 weeks with exercise specialists who developed individualized programs for HIIT (~90% peak heart rate; 1:1 minute for 10 bouts; 75 minutes/week); and MICT (~65% peak heart rate; 50 minutes; 150 minutes/week). Afterward, participants were asked to maintain their respective programs independently 3 days a week for 1 month. Accelerometer and heart rate data showed a greater adherence in the HIIT (~89%) vs. the MICT (~71%) group.

It is important to note that the HIIT group spent significantly more time performing vigorous physical activity, a key in preventing cardiometabolic disease.

REFERENCE: Jung, M.E., et al. 2015. High-intensity interval training as an efficacious alternative to moderate-intensity continuous training for adults with prediabetes. Journal of Diabetes Research, doi:10.1155/2015/191595.

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AFM_Author_Nunez TONY P. NUÑEZ, PHD, is an assistant professor in exercise science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

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