A common characteristic among people with type 2 diabetes is dysfunction of beta cells, which are responsible for storing and releasing insulin. New research suggests that high-intensity training workouts may help to restore beta-cell function.

Twelve sedentary adults aged 54 ± 2 years and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were recruited to complete a 6-week CrossFit “Functional High-Intensity Training” (F-HIT) program. They completed three workouts per week featuring functional weightlifting, gymnastics and endurance movements under the guidance of a certified CrossFit trainer. The sessions were varied and lasted 10–20 minutes. All participants completed glucose and blood analysis as well as body composition and performance tests before and after the intervention.

Beta-cell function improved, and participants lost weight and fat while maintaining lean mass. However, there were no notable changes in glucose tolerance.

The researchers were excited by the results and noted that this type of training could be attractive to people with type 2 diabetes because it can yield marked improvements with minimal time investment.

“There is little scientific doubt that exercise is beneficial, yet adults with type 2 diabetes may find it difficult to adhere to a strict exercise regimen, citing ‘lack of time’ as one of their primary barriers,” the authors wrote. “F-HIT programs like CrossFit may address this barrier by providing structure, supervision and accountability, with a minimal time commitment (10–20 min/session 3 times per week).”

The study appeared in the American Journal of Physiology–Endocrinology and Metabolism (2017; doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00407.2016).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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