Physical activity improves the regulation of glucose homeostasis in both type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients and healthy individuals, but the effect on pancreatic β cell function is unknown. We investigated glycaemic control, pancreatic function and total fat mass before and after 8 weeks of low volume high intensity interval training (HIIT) on cycle ergometer in T2D patients and matched healthy control individuals. Study design/method: Elderly (56 yrs±2), non-active T2D patients (n = 10) and matched (52 yrs±2) healthy controls (CON) (n = 13) exercised 3 times (10×60 sec. HIIT) a week over an 8 week period on a cycle ergometer. Participants underwent a 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). On a separate day, resting blood pressure measurement was conducted followed by an incremental maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) cycle ergometer test. Finally, a whole body dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was performed. After 8 weeks of training, the same measurements were performed. Results: in the T2D-group, glycaemic control as determined by average fasting venous glucose concentration (p = 0.01), end point 2-hour OGTT (p = 0.04) and glycosylated haemoglobin (p = 0.04) were significantly reduced. Pancreatic homeostasis as determined by homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and HOMA β cell function (HOMA-%β) were both significantly ameliorated (p = 0.03 and p = 0.03, respectively). Whole body insulin sensitivity as determined by the disposition index (DI) was significantly increased (p = 0.03). During OGTT, the glucose continuum was significantly reduced at -15 (p = 0.03), 30 (p = 0.03) and 120 min (p = 0.03) and at -10 (p = 0.003) and 0 min (p = 0.003) with an additional improvement (p = 0.03) of its 1st phase (30 min) area under curve (AUC). Significant abdominal fat mass losses were seen in both groups (T2D: p = 0.004 and CON: p = 0.02) corresponding to a percentage change of -17.84%±5.02 and -9.66%±3.07, respectively. Conclusion: these results demonstrate that HIIT improves overall glycaemic control and pancreatic β cell function in T2D patients. Additionally, both groups experienced abdominal fat mass losses. These findings demonstrate that HIIT is a health beneficial exercise strategy in T2D patients.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02333734 http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02333734.