Tag Archives: Dr John Babraj

Diabetes prevented with just two minutes’ exercise

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by doing just two sessions of high-intensity training (HIT) a week, new research published in the journal Biology has shown.

In the paper, the authors from Abertay University state that HIT not only reduces the risk of disease, but is also just as effective at doing so as the exercise guidelines currently recommended by the UK Government.

These state that five, 30-minute sessions of exercise should be carried out each week – something that very few people manage to achieve.

The most common reason cited for this is lack of time, and the research team behind this latest study believe that HIT is the perfect way for people who are time-poor to improve their health.

In the study, overweight adults – a group at high-risk of developing diabetes – took part in a HIT regime for a period of eight weeks.

This involved completing twice-weekly sprints on an exercise bike, with each sprint lasting just six seconds.

10 sprints were completed in total during each session, amounting to just two minutes of exercise per week.

This short, but high-intensity, regime was enough to significantly improve cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity – the body’s ability to clear glucose from the bloodstream – in the participants, and is the first time that so little exercise has been shown to have such significant health benefits.

Previous research by the same team had shown that three HIT sessions a week were required, but this study has eclipsed these results by showing that the same can be achieved with just two.

Dr John Babraj – who heads up the high-intensity training research team at Abertay University – explains:

“With this study, we investigated the benefits of high-intensity training (HIT) in a population group known to be at risk of developing diabetes: overweight, middle-aged adults.

“We found that not only does HIT reduce the risk of them developing the disease, but also that the regime needs to be performed only twice a week in order for them to reap the benefits. And you don’t have to be able to go at the speed of Usain Bolt when you’re sprinting. As long as you are putting your maximal effort into the sprints, it will improve your health.

“And this is the beauty of high-intensity training: it is quick to do and it is effective. Although it is well-established that exercise is a powerful therapy for the treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes, only 40 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women in the UK achieve the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on five days of the week.

“Lack of time to exercise, due to work or family commitments, is cited as the most common barrier to participation, so high-intensity training offers a really effective solution to this problem and has the added benefit of reducing disease risk which activities such as walking – even if done five days a week for 30 minutes – don’t offer.

“There is a clear relationship between the intensity of exercise and the magnitude of health improvement, so it is only through these short, high-intensity sprints that health improvements can be seen.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron M: 07972172158 E: k.cameron@abertay.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

  • Abertay is the only university in Scotland where research into HIT is carried ou
  • Dr John Babraj published the first major paper demonstrating that HIT improves insulin sensitivity (the ability of insulin to clear glucose from the bloodstream) and aerobic fitness in sedentary young people.
  • According to Diabetes UK, Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.9 million. By 2025 it is estimated that five million people will have diabetes. Most of these cases will be Type 2 diabetes, because of our ageing population and rapidly rising numbers of overweight and obese people.
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Get fit post-Olympics in just 60 seconds, say researchers at the University of Abertay Dundee

A new paper published this month by researchers at the University of Abertay Dundee suggests that anyone inspired to get fit by the Olympics and Paralympics can do so in just 60 seconds.

Using a sequence of six-second sprints, one of the shortest sprint durations ever used in high-intensity training (HIT), researchers found that fitness levels of participants in the study increased by more than 10 per cent after only two weeks.

HIT involves short bursts of intense exercise and achieves similar results to long-distance endurance training. However, it is much less time consuming and comes with a lower risk of injury, making it ideal for elite athletes like Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis, who strive to remain injury free.

For this study, researchers tested the effectiveness of extremely short high-intensity sprints on “sub-elite” triathletes rather than professional sports people, but say they could just as easily have recruited people who play rugby or football on a regular basis instead, and that they would have seen the same improvements in fitness.

At the beginning of the study, all participants were asked to complete a self-paced 10km cycled time trial as quickly as they could. They were then divided into two groups: the first was to undergo three sessions of HIT a week, for two-weeks, while the second acted as a control group.

For the HIT group, each of the six sessions consisted of cycling all out for six-seconds, resting for one minute, and then repeating the sprint a total of ten times.   This amounted to just 60 seconds of exercise per session, with three sessions being completed each week.

At the end of the fortnight, subjects from both groups were again asked to complete the time trial, and all those who had done the HIT programme finished 10 per cent faster than they had the time before.

Lead author of the study, Dr John Babraj from Abertay University’s School of Social and Health Sciences, says that one of the reasons for the dramatic improvement in fitness levels in such a short space of time was down to the effects the six-second sprints have on the body’s ability to use a substance called lactate. He explains:

“During the Olympics you’ll probably have heard some of the athletes in post race interviews talking about the lactic acid that’s built up in their legs, which they say causes them pain and slows them down. Lots of people in sport talk about lactic acid affecting them in this way, but what they’re actually referring to is a substance called lactate which appears in the bloodstream during exercise.

“However, far from causing pain, lactate is actually a useful fuel that the body makes during exercise to enable it to perform at a higher level for longer.

“At the end of a race, the blood is often saturated with lactate because the body can’t use it up quickly enough, but it is just a coincidence that this occurs at the same time as an athlete starts to seize up and slow down.

“In this study, we looked at the time it took for lactate to build up in the blood and found that it occurred more slowly after doing 60 seconds of short sprints.

“This suggests that the short sprints make it possible for the body to use the lactate more efficiently, and means that people who do this kind of HIT will be able to perform better in their chosen sport.

“But the results of this study aren’t just relevant for people already taking part in sport. Anyone who’s been inspired by the Olympics to get fit and be more active, but perhaps thinks it’ll involve spending hours in the gym pounding the treadmill, could do 60 seconds of exercise three times a week and be much fitter and healthier in only a fortnight.”

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

The study, entitled “Extremely short duration high-intensity training substantially improves endurance performance in triathletes” is published in the October edition of “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism”.

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