Reverse diabetic heart disease with high intensity interval training (HIIT)

Reverse diabetic heart disease with high intensity interval training (HIIT)Heart problems and control of type-2 diabetes can be better improved by high intensity interval training (HIIT), according to research published in Diabetology. Rates of heart disease are higher among individuals with type-2 diabetes, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in those with type-2 diabetes. Changes to the heart can be seen early in those with type-2 diabetes, starting with the structure and the function of the left ventricle.

It is already known that an active lifestyle can better help those with type-2 diabetes and should be complemented with healthy eating habits as well. Although a strong link has been shown between exercise and type-2 diabetes, the effects exercise can have on diabetics’ hearts has remained unknown. The recent study found that short bursts of intense physical activity raise the heart rate quicker, as opposed to longer, moderate-intensity workouts. The researchers used a style of exercise called high intensity interval training (HIIT) to test how it would improve the heart in those with type-2 diabetes.


Twenty-three participants with type-2 diabetes were studied over the course of 12 weeks using HIIT style workouts or continued standard care for diabetes. Measurement of the cardiac structure and function was done using MRI technology, and diabetes control was measured with glucose tests.

High intensity interval training was shown to be successful in changing the structure and improving the function of the heart in those with type-2 diabetes. More benefits were shown in the left ventricle which is first to change in people with type-2 diabetes. Diabetes control also moderately improved.

Authors of the study concluded, “The data reinforce how important a physically active lifestyle is for people with type-2 diabetes. Our findings also suggest that exercise does not have to be 30 minutes of continuous exercise – repeated short bouts of higher intensity exercise give strong benefits to the heart. Getting more physically active is, quite literally, at the heart of good diabetes control.”

High intensity interval training (HIIT) and diabetic heart disease

High intensity interval training (HIIT) and diabetic heart diseaseHigh intensity interval training is a style of exercise which incorporates moderate intensity exercise with short spurts of high intensity exercises. For example, a person may jog for two minutes and sprint for 30 seconds and then return back to a jog. HIIT continues to show positive results as it contributes to good health, but more so for those who have diabetes.

HIIT can be carried out by just about anyone, at any time of the day, but for those who have not exercised in a while or have another disability, you may need clearance or guidance from your doctor.

The good part about HIIT is that it doesn’t need to take a full hour. It uses bursts of high intensity exercises, so you can gain more results in a shorter amount of time because your heart rate is more rapidly increasing. Other benefits are that you can incorporate a variety of exercises, and all fitness levels can incorporate it into their routine.


If you are a beginner with HIIT, start off with low amounts of high intensity exercises, for example 10 to 30 seconds with longer, lower intensity movements in between. The more you begin to improve, the shorter breaks you can take, or you can extend the high intensity movements for longer.

Researchers examined the benefits of HIIT in those with diabetes and diabetes heart disease and revealed that HIIT works positively to better control glucose levels in the long run.

If you are interested in starting HIIT, ensure you have clearance from your healthcare practitioner before starting any exercise program. If so, as mentioned, start off small – longer period of moderate intensity and short bursts of high intensity and continue to gradually move up. Whether you are diabetic or not, it is always important to exercise and eat well to prevent illness.

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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