During interval training, you switch between periods of high-intensity activity and periods of low-intensity activity. The high-intensity intervals give your heart, lungs, and muscles a vigorous workout. The low-intensity intervals give your body time to recover.
If you live with type 2 diabetes, getting regular exercise can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Interval training can be a useful way to get the physical activity you need. Read on to learn how interval training may help you manage type 2 diabetes and how to make the most of your workouts.
What are the benefits of interval training?
According to a review article published in 2015, interval training has many potential benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. Research suggests it does more to improve cardiorespiratory fitness compared to continuous moderate-intensity exercise. Some studies suggest that it may also lead to greater improvements in your ability to manage your blood sugar levels.
Interval training may also help you make the most of short workouts. Although more research is needed, early studies suggest that even short periods of interval training can make a positive difference to your blood sugar levels and heart health. If you only have 10 or 20 minutes to spare for exercise, consider incorporating some high-intensity intervals of activity into your workout session.
What are the potential risks of interval training?
Interval training has many potential benefits, but it might not be the best fit for everyone. In general, high-intensity exercise puts more stress on your heart than low- and medium-intensity exercise.
For most people, that’s not a problem. But for people with certain health conditions, it may be risky.
Before you add high-intensity intervals to your exercise routine, talk with your doctor. Depending on your medical history and fitness level, they might encourage you to take a stress test. This test can help you learn how your heart responds to vigorous aerobic activity. Your doctor can help you understand your test results and develop a workout plan that’s safe for you.
If you decide to try interval training, try to set realistic goals and gradually build your endurance over time. This can help you avoid overuse injuries while making steady progress towards your fitness goals.
One of the perks of interval training is its flexibility. You can adjust the length and intensity of your intervals to meet your needs and abilities. As your fitness level improves, you can increase the length or intensity of your intervals, or take shorter breaks between them.
How can I incorporate interval training into my routine?
You can use interval training with many different types of exercise.
For example, the next time you go for a walk, consider alternating periods of fast walking with periods of slow walking. For a more challenging workout, you can switch between jogging and walking. Depending on your fitness level, you could try starting with 30-second intervals of jogging, followed by 2-minute intervals of walking.
You can apply the same strategy to other types of aerobic exercise, such as:
- cross-country skiing
- elliptical workouts
Changing your pace is one way to adjust the intensity level of your intervals, but it’s not the only option. For example, consider scaling a hill or set of stairs during high-intensity intervals of walking, running, or cycling. If you’re using a stationary bike, elliptical machine, or other exercise equipment, you can also adjust the settings to add more resistance during high-intensity intervals.
You can use interval training for muscle strengthening activities, too. For example, alternate high-intensity sets of callisthenics with periods of rest. Examples of callisthenic exercises include pullups, pushups, lunges, squats, and abdominal crunches.
Many fitness classes also incorporate elements of interval training into their programming.
The takeaway: Add intensity to your routine
Adding intervals of high-intensity activity to your workouts may help improve your aerobic fitness level. It may also help you manage your blood sugar more effectively, all while giving your body a good workout.
To minimize your risk of injury, start slow and set realistic exercise goals. As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase the length or intensity of your intervals.