HbA1c levels blood test

A small Canadian study finds that short bursts of high-intensity exercise could significantly reduce HbA1c levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Avinash Pandey, a high school student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, Ontario, randomised 76 type 2 diabetes patients to either a conventional sustained-exercise program, which involved 30 minutes of physical activty, or a burst-exercise program, in which patients performed three bouts of 10-minute bursts.

HbA1c, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels of the participants were all measured at baseline, who had an average age of 65 and average BMI of 31 kg/m2.

The study lasted three months. Afterwards, the burst-exercise had an average HbA1c reduction of 0.82 per cent, which was statistically significant in comparison to the average reduction of 0.25 per cent in the sustained-exercise group.

The burst-exercise group also had statistically superior reductions in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as improved HDL cholesterol.

Senior researcher Dr. Paul Poirier, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC believes these findings could prove valuable in treating type 2 diabetes, despite its small size.

Poirier told Medscape Medical News: “We always need more research, because it is short term. In an exercise study, three months is good to show proof of concept, but we need to have longer-term data. But right now, it’s very interesting.

“What we can say for sure is that [burst exercise] is safe and effective in the short term. Quite frankly, the reduction in HbA1c was as good as adding a drug.”

The findings were presented at the 2015 Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (CCC).