Short bursts of exercise lower blood sugar

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

jogging treadmill
The snack-sized workout doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to be intense enough to leave you breathless. So, turn up the speed and get moving!

There’s a common notion that more time spent exercising means better health, but researchers are realizing that small bursts of exercise spread throughout the day are just as beneficial for our bodies. According to a new study, these short-duration physical activities are even effective at regulating the levels of sugar in our blood!

After we eat a large meal, our digestive system extracts nutrients from the food for our body, and dumps any sugar into the bloodstream. This raises sugar levels until a special molecule known as insulin transports the sweet chemical to individual cells for energy.

For individuals suffering from a condition known as type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn’t work very well, so their blood sugar levels remain dangerously high for long periods of time.

While exercise has been shown to keep these sugar levels under control, researchers recently found evidence that it doesn’t have to be done all at once. They designed an experiment with a group of people at high risk for developing diabetes, asking them to do two different types of workouts. First, participants power walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes right before a meal. In the second trial, study volunteers broke up their physical activity into three 12-minute sets.

These snack-sized workouts were conducted right before every meal, and resulted in lower blood sugar levels than a single lengthier session! While the time spent working up a sweat didn’t have to be long, it did have to be intense.

Featured image courtesy of Claude Robillard on Flickr. Image of treadmill runner courtesy of MilitaryHealth on Flickr.