Frequent exercise breaks good for type 2 diabetes

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

A new study has found that frequent exercise breaks during prolonged sitting may be better for blood vessel health in people with type 2 diabetes than less-frequent activity interruptions.

The research was conducted by Australian Catholic University.

Diabetes and heart disease

People living with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease and reduced vascular or blood vessel function than those without diabetes.

Measuring vascular function is used to identify the risk of heart disease.

Moving more and sitting less helps reduce the risk of heart disease. This is true for everyone, not just people with diabetes.

However, rapidly advancing technologies in the workplace and at home are leading to fewer opportunities for incidental activity. This is creating lifestyles that are conducive to prolonged periods of sitting.

Does the frequency of exercise matter?

In the study, the team explored the effects of shorter, more frequent and longer, less-frequent exercise breaks on blood flow and blood vessel dilation in adults with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Each volunteer participated in three separate trial conditions on different days. In one, the volunteers sat for eight hours, where they could read or use a phone, but they did not take activity breaks.

In the second, volunteers did three minutes of exercises that included squats, leg lifts, and calf raises every 30 minutes. A finally in the third they took six-minute exercise breaks every hour.

The researchers found that compared with just sitting, blood vessel function improved in both instances where volunteers exercised. But the results were much better when the participants exercised every 30 minutes.

This suggests that the frequency of the activity break may be more important than the length of time.

Frequent exercise is good for your health

As there is a progressive impairment in vascular function as type 2 diabetes develops, frequently interrupting sitting is needed to preserve leg blood flow.

The new findings suggest that more-frequent and shorter breaks may be more beneficial than longer, less-frequent breaks for improving vascular function in those with type 2 diabetes.

The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

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