Research is clear that exercise is excellent for both physical and mental well-being, but it’s all the more important if you have or are at high risk for a health condition such as type 2 diabetes. The good news is that working out might not have to be so daunting or time-consuming: According to Canadian researchers, you can get optimal results with short bouts of exercise as opposed to lengthier workouts.
“More may be accomplished with short bursts of vigorous exercise, in which patients achieve a higher maximum target heart rate, and [it] may be easier to fit into busy schedules," says study co-author Avinash Pandey, an undergraduate student at the University of Western Ontario. Pandey’s three-month study involved 76 adults, all in their late 60s and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Half the group performed 30-minute exercise sessions five days a week at a low-intensity (65 percent of their target heart rate). The other half worked at a higher intensity but for shorter periods—three daily 10-minute workouts at an 85 percent target rate.
The high-intensity group saw better results, notably sharp declines in cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as lower weight and improved heart health. A critical measure of diabetes, hemoglobin A1C levels, showed a twofold dip (this is considered a significant improvement). On top of that, it was also easier to work the short-interval workouts into a daily schedule—so this group not only exercised more consistently, but they also did so more each week. While it’s unclear if the study outcomes were the result of workout intensity or total exercise time (or both), according to HealthDay, the study authors suggest that “high-intensity exercise may use energy in a different way” that promotes positive health.
We know that regular vigorous exercise could lengthen your life, but short bursts of exercise seem a lot more manageable—and give us less of an excuse to slack off. Whether you already have type 2 diabetes or want to prevent it, allot some 10-minute break times dedicated solely to your health. November is National Diabetes Month, so now is the perfect time to get started.