Reduce your blood glucose with short breaks of physical activity.
Elevated blood glucose causes damage to tissue and can increase low grade inflammation which increases the risk for chronic diseases.
We have known for a long time that exercise helps to transfer the blood glucose into the cells, that way lowering the blood glucose.
As it turns out it does not take a lot of activity to do that. The reviewed research is interesting because it compared two approaches of activity during 9 hours of sitting(Peddie MC, et al. 2013).
The participants were 70 adults who were each given 3 meal replacement drinks during the 9 hours. On one occasion they walked for 30 minutes and were then sitting for 9 hours and on another occasion they were breaking up the sitting with walking for 1 minute and 40 seconds every 30 minutes.
The results showed that both blood glucose levels and insulin levels were reduced more when they walked for 1 minute and 40 seconds every 30 minutes as compared to continuous walking for 30 minutes.
In my experience, you don’t even have to spend that much time being active if you practice a certain type of activity.
I will be writing more about that in a future article.
A benefit of exercise you may not be aware of.
As we get older inflammation usually increases. You don’t necessarily have to get increased inflammation as you age, but that’s what’s been observed in a lot of people. You probably know that inflammation is a risk factor for most chronic diseases, it can also make you more uncomfortable because it can contribute to pain.
It would be great if you had a way to reduce inflammation without taking any medication. In fact there are ways you can do that, and instead of side effects you even get a lot of additional benefits.
Exercise is one of the things that can reduce inflammation. That is exactly what the reviewed study investigated, by looking at data from a lot of research on this specific topic(Woods JA, et al. 2012). Data on the participants activity level, as well as measurements of several inflammatory markers, were used.
As you may have guessed, exercise was found to reduce some of these inflammatory markers, especially highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).
One of the studies they looked at also investigated the effects of antioxidants on inflammation. They found that the participants who took antioxidants had reduced inflammation, even if they did not exercise(Colbert LH, et al. 2004).
The logical thing would be to both exercise and take antioxidants.
The most effective antioxidant the body makes is glutathione, but the problem is that it produces less of it as we get older, when we actually need more.
You can read more about this by clicking here.
High intensity exercise is best, but what kind?
I have written about high-intensity short-interval training several times, because more and more research is teaching us how to maximize our exercise benefits. Research has proven that it’s a very effective way of exercising. So how can you use this principle when exercising to get the best results?
The secret is revealed in the reviewed research.(Cochran AJ,et al. 2014). These researchers compared:
- High-intensity short interval training performed on a stationary bike, done either for 30 seconds with 4 minutes of rest in between intervals repeated 4 times.
- One set of continuous exercises that were matched for total energy output and required 4 minutes to complete as fast as possible.
Strangely enough, even though energy output was the same, the results were not!
After the first exercise session both protocols produced similar increases in markers of AMPK, p38 MAPK and PGC-1alpha mRNA expression. These are proteins related to mitochondrial energy production in muscles. These proteins were also measured after six weeks of exercising three times per week. Here are the surprising results:
The continuous exercise protocol did not produce the same increase in these markers after six weeks as the short interval protocol with rest in between sets did. It turns out that intermittent stimulus is important for maximizing muscle adaptation.
If you want maximum results from exercise it needs to be short, very intensive intervals. You need rest in between the intervals to recover.
When you exercise this way your actual exercise time will be very short, only two minutes per session.
Walk fast to get help with with weight loss.
Walking has been promoted as an easy way to lose weight and stay in shape, but is it really effective? That is exactly what the reviewed researched investigated.
The participants a total of 4511 adults aged 18-64 years were included in the study(Fan JX, et al. 2013). The body mass index (BMI) were measured and accelerometers were used to evaluate minutes per day of high intensity bouts of walking of either 10 minutes or more, or less than 10 minutes. This was compared with lower intensity walking of 10 minutes or more per day and lower intensity walking of less than 10 minutes per day.
It was found that both higher intensity short-duration or walking long-duration were related to reduced BMI or risk of overweight/obesity. Neither the short walks or the long walks of lower intensity were found to have a positive effect on BMI or risk of overweight/obesity.
The message is that even less than 10 minutes of walking per day can help you prevent weight gain if it is high intensity walking. This is another example showing that it is the intensity of the exercise you do that is important, not the time you spend doing it. The more intense you exercise, the less time you need to spend doing it.
High intensity training proven to be superior
Exercise has been documented to have a profound effect on the body in many ways. One of the things exercise can alter is certain hormones. In the reviewed research, the investigators evaluated the hormone adiponectin in response to 2 different training programs (Shing CM, et al. 2013). Body composition, power output and VO2peak were also measured. Adiponectin affects several things, one of these things is body fat. As adiponectin goes up, the body fat percentage goes down.
The research participants in this study were rowers and the training period was 4 weeks. High intensity interval ergometer rowing training was compared to traditional ergo meter training with measurements taken at the beginning and at the end of both programs.
As you may have guessed the high intensity training was superior in several ways. The adiponectin level increased significantly and so did the power output and VO2peak after the high intensity interval training, while the body fat percentage decreased. None of these things changed significantly after the traditional training.
Numerous studies on high intensity interval training has now shown impressive benefits usually in a lot less time than conventional training. This is yet another example.
Is extreme endurance training and competitions like marathons healthy?
No one can dispute that regular exercise is beneficial, but sometimes we tend to think that more is better.
The reviewed research investigated the effects of training for, and the participation in endurance competitions like marathon ultra-marathon, Iron-man distance triathlons and very long-distance bicycle racing (Patil HR, et al. 2012).
In veteran extreme endurance athletes the recurrent injury and repair to the heart muscle that occur in these athletes may essentially create arrhythmias.
Chronic excessive and sustained endurance exercise may be associated with diastolic dysfunction, large-artery wall stiffening and coronary artery calcification.
Don’t draw the conclusion that exercise is dangerous, and that it is better not to exercise, because that is not true. Most endurance athletes don’t even develop these conditions, but if you’re thinking about starting to run marathons for health reasons, you may want to rethink that and instead start to do high-intensity interval training. High-intensity interval training takes a lot less time, and has shown to provide numerous health benefits.