In the early 1990s, a Japanese physician named Dr. Izumi Tabata first pioneered interval training, also referred to as Tabata training, as a way of increasing endurance and burning fat. Originally designed specifically for runners and consisting primarily of training specific sprinting intervals, it has since transformed into a much more comprehensive training method that can be customized to not only a specific sport, but also a specific athlete. The basic idea of short duration-high intensity activity alternated with periods of rest however, has remained largely the same over the years and has been proven extremely effective in study after study. In fact, most research supports the claim that high intensity interval training is among the most effective ways of increasing both cardiovascular endurance and strength that we know of.
The newest research, however, demonstrates a new benefit of this type of exercise; an improvement in beta cell production in adults with type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is a disease that afflicts people from around the world and kills more than a million people per year globally. It costs over $800 billion per year according to the largest ever diabetes survey and over $300 billion of that is spent here in the United States alone. Why this finding is significant is that beta cells in the pancreas produce, store, and secrete insulin – increasing beta cells increases the bodies capacity to perform these necessary functions that lie at the root of dysfunction associated with the condition.
So what does the workout look like that the study used to achieve these results? Probably a lot more like something you would see in a cross fit gym than your typical ‘globo’ gym. In fact, it was designed by a certified cross fit trainer and only required 3 workouts per week lasting no longer than 10-20 minutes per workout. That means that if you have diabetes, you can do yourself a huge favor by working out for only 1 hour a week. The key is that you must achieve a level of intensity that brings your heart rate up to greater than 85 percent of your maximum target hear rate – this is intense, but not impossible!
Keep in mind that these workouts are not designed to be, and should not be, done everyday. They should be done 2-3 times a week at most and should be alternated with lower intensity steady state workouts. As always, if this is something you are not doing already, but want to try, take the time to talk to your health care provider to see if it is appropriate for you.