In this study, researchers have shown that “only a few minutes of high intensity interval exercise, performed over two weeks, significantly improves glycemic control in sedentary young adults”.

the very definition of sedentary
the very definition of sedentary

In contrast, previous studies have shown that:

  • Long term (2-16 months) aerobic exercise programs have produced mixed results. While there were improvements in the insulin profile, the same can’t be said for the blood sugar profile. This indicates only a partial improvement in insulin action.
  • Long term strength training programs (hypertrophy style programs) produced results similar to the cardio programs.
  • Walking based interventions have also be unsuccessful with groups trying to prevent the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The Science

The HIIT effect on blood sugar and insulin response
The HIIT effect on blood sugar and insulin response

The low volume, high intensity interval training utilized in the current study significantly reduced both glucose AUC (area under curve) by (-12%) and insulin AUC by (-37%), with a sustained improved insulin action until at least day three after the last exercise session.

And these improvements required a minimal time commitment from the test subjects.

The HIIT Program

  • 2 weeks in duration
  • 6 workouts (3 per week)
  • 17-26 minutes per workout
  • 2-3 minutes of sprints per workout
  • Average caloric burn – 250 per workout (note – the researcher only measured caloric burn during the session – there was no mention of EPOC)

In comparison, the long term cardio programs I mentioned earlier required the test subjects to spend hours on an exercise bike, sweat out between 2000 to 3000 calories per week…and still receive inferior results.

So let’s compare:

HIIT Workout

  • Less time spent exercising
  • Better results

Cardio Workout

  • More time spent exercising
  • Inferior results


HIIT workouts produce significant improvements in glycemic contol and are a superior method for helping sedentary people improve their glycemic control.

Translation: HIIT kicks some serious Type 2 Diabetes butt.


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