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Brief, Intense Exercise Lowers Blood Sugar, Small Study Finds
Date:12/15/2011

Their average age was 63, and their body mass index (BMI) was 32, a level considered obese. BMI is a measurement of body fat that takes into account height and weight.

Over two weeks, the study participants completed six sessions of high-intensity training. For one minute, the study participants would exercise intensely, followed by a minute of rest. This was then repeated until they'd completed 10 minutes of intense exercise. The exercise sessions also included a warm-up and cool-down period for a total of 25 minutes of exercise.

The intense exercise was done at a level to get the heart rate to about 90 percent of their maximal heart rate. Gibala said this means you're exercising really hard for that minute. "You're not at an all-out pace, like you're trying to save your child, but you'll definitely be out of breath and have trouble talking after a minute," he said.

The best thing about this type of exercise is that "these intervals can be scaled to your level of fitness so that it's safe and effective for you," he noted.

In addition to testing blood sugar levels throughout the study, the researchers also biopsied thigh muscles from each participant at the start of the study, and after the last bout of exercise.

The investigators found that blood sugar levels dropped from 137 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) to 119 mg/dL. In addition, blood sugar levels after meals were also reduced long after training sessions were complete.

The biopsies from the thigh muscles showed increased skeletal mitochondrial capacity, an indicator of improved metabolic health.

Gibala said there are more glucose-transport proteins in the blood after exercise, and these transporters move glucose into the muscles. That's why there's less glucose in the blood.

Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, agreed that short bouts of exercise can help the body better use glu
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