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Interval Training is Best for Managing Blood Sugar

running and managing blood sugar

Incorporating interval training into your daily walks is an excellent way to build fitness and manage blood sugar.


High intensity exercise has been shown to be more effective at improving blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, however, there has been a concern about starting intense workouts – such as running – for fear of inducing injuries (too fast too soon). But walking is a great exercise that almost anyone can begin right away. Incorporating interval training into your daily walks is an excellent way to build fitness and manage blood sugar.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen, led by Dr. Thomas Solomon, have found that interval training, where you alternate fast and slow walking into a workout (versus walking one speed continuously) is best for improving glycemic control.

The team studied two groups. The group of participants that used Interval Walking Training (IWT) 5-times a week for exercise (60 minutes per session) had improved blood sugar control over those in the Continuous Walking Training (CWT) group. The researchers believe that IWT increases insulin sensitivity and peripheral glucose disposal – both of which are indicative of better glucose metabolism.

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How to Incorporate Interval Training into Your Walk or Run

If you are just getting started, it is advised to begin a walking program prior to advancing to more intense activity such as running. During your walk, alternate fast walking with a slower “recovery” walk – but don’t stop! You can use a timer or your watch and walk fast one minute, slow one minute for a total of 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can purchase an interval timer such as the GoFit GoTimer or use a running watch that allows you to set intervals. You can also use a smartphone app such as Couch to 5K.

As you improve your fitness, you can walk fast for longer periods of time and eventually start running intervals!

Journal Reference:
Kristian Karstoft et al. Mechanisms behind the superior effects of interval vs continuous training on glycaemic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial. Diabetologia, August 2014 DOI:10.1007/s00125-014-3334-5