Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fend off Diabetes and Heart Disease with Short Bursts of Exercise

Too busy to spend time in a gym or go for long walks? Yet you realize how important exercise is to ward off such degenerative diseases as Diabetes II and Heart Disease?

Well, an article in Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, January 30, 2009, gives hope to people with tightly packed schedules.

It seems that short bursts of exercise can be just as beneficial as hours in the gym, or at least a healthy addition to your exercise regime. My workouts at the gym serve many purposes, but the short-burst study addresses a specific health situation. It's worth exploring.

According to the article.....A new study indicates that short bursts of intense physical activity, adding up to just several minutes a week, may do more to help prevent diabetes and possibly heart disease than many hours spent in a sweaty gym.

The study builds on early research that found merit in maximum-intensity workouts - but goes a major step further.

"We have shown for the first time that this approach has dramatic effects on insulin function and the ability of the body to properly process glucose." said the head researcher, James Timmons of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

...Dr. Timmons believes the "maximum effort" workout essentially uses up all the carbohydrates (complex sugars) packed away in the muscles. "If you deplete the muscle stores of carbohydrate, then they act extremely efficiently at taking up dietary glucose and storing it." he explained.

"Not only do you need less insulin to do this job, but the glucose peak disappears quicker, which means your blood stream is exposed to less high glucose."

He noted that high glucose levels can damage blood vessels and contribute to cardio-vascular disease. So, in theory, minimizing the glucose highs should help protect the heart.

Still, Dr. Timmons acknowledged that a lot more research is needed to prove such an approach can actually prevent diabetes and heart disease. He would like to see large-scale studies that compare the high intensity training program with current guidelines that suggest several hours of moderate to vigorous aerobic and resistance exercise every week. (End)

It would be interesting to see what kinds of short-burst, high intensity exercises a person could do during a busy day. In the meantime, I find that in working with a personal trainer 3 times a week, the exercise covers such areas as balance, stability, strength, cardio, bone mass and related health issues.

I assume there must be some benefits to warding off diabetes and heart disease in that regime . Maybe I should just add some short bursts of high intensity runs on our home treadmill a few times a day. Stay tuned....

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