High Intensity Sprinting for Diabetes

In the BBC, and I believe I saw this on Art's private blog.

Short fast sprints 'cut' diabetes

Rather than slaving away for hours in the gym, people should focus their attention on quick "sprints" with each workout lasting just a few minutes.
James Timmons, Heriot-Watt University professor of exercise biology has studied the effects of quick exercise.

He recommends 4 x 30 second sprints on an exercise bike three times a week.
He said people could reduce their risk of diabetes and heart disease substantially with short, intense workouts – with such "time-efficient" exercising appealing to busy workers. […]

This involved the men going as fast as they could for 30 seconds and then taking a few minutes of complete rest between each sprint.
After two weeks, Prof Timmons said the results were "substantial", with a 23% improvement in insulin function.

While his research focused on young men, Prof Timmons said it would work for people of all ages and for both men and women.
He said: "This study looked at the way we break down stores of glycogen.

"Think about diabetes as being glucose circulating in the blood rather than stored in the muscles where it should be.

"If we take out the glycogen from the muscles through exercise, then the muscles draw in that excess glucose from the blood."

Exactly what I and others have been saying for a long time with respect to the GENE EXPRESSION benefits of HIT (high intensity training). This takes no time at all and is a lot of fun (sprinting in now my favorite, since I've retrained myself to run all-out at 48-yrs-old). And, if you can't run, you can use a stationary bike, but put a bit of resistance on it, and just go all out — everything you have.

And, as many have also been saying, chronic cardio gets you nowhere. It probably harms you.

He added: "If you go for a jog or a run you oxidise glycogen but you are not depleting the glycogen in your muscles.

"The only way to get to this glycogen is through very intense contractions of the muscles.

"If we can get people in their 20s, 30s and 40s doing these exercises twice a week then it could have a very dramatic effect on the future prevalence of diabetes."
He said the effects were bigger than the traditional "one hour of running per day".

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Sam on February 4, 2009 at 18:30

    With nearly everything from the world of nutrition you have to separate the good from the worthless.

    The implication in the pieces you snipped is that sprinting (i.e., exercise) can affect the development of diabetes.

    Nonsense. All it will do is allow diabetics better control over their blood glucose levels.

    If they want to prevent (or cure in the cases where there are still functional pancreatic beta cells) you have to control insulin levels. And that means restricting carbohydrates, something the author wouldn't be happy (if he even knows) saying.

  2. Patrik on February 4, 2009 at 18:34

    After two weeks, Prof Timmons said the results were "substantial", with a 23% improvement in insulin function.

    My guess is that improvement in insulin function, not calories burned, via exercise is why exercise helps in weight loss. Art De Vany may have also mentioned this.

    As Taubes pointed out it is a myth that exercise helps weight loss via calories in, calories out.

  3. Richard Nikoley on February 5, 2009 at 06:47

    "The implication in the pieces you snipped is that sprinting (i.e., exercise) can affect the development of diabetes."

    I think the implication is that obesity and diabetes are functions of a hormonal problem, chiefly insulin (resistance) and that brief, intermittent, high intensity training can improve insulin "function," which I take to mean: sensitivity.

    It's nothing we don't already know. Carb restriction is certainly necessary for someone already obese, type 2, or both (or borderline), but for non-obese and non-diabetic, something like this ought to certainly be beneficial even without carb restriction.

    The overall point I took from the article is that low-intensity exercise is essentially worthless and that high intensity exercise carries many benefits, one of which is improved insulin function.

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