High Intensity Interval Training Improves Glycaemic Control and Pancreatic β Cell Function of Type 2 Diabetes Patients

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 10;10(8):e0133286. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133286. eCollection 2015.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Ergometry
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Glucose / chemistry
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Glycosylation
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Glucose
  • Oxygen

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02333734

Grants and funding

This work was supported by Accu Trend, Denmark and Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University. Roche Diagnostics has kindly supported the study by giving glucometers (Accu Trend). Neither Roche Diagnostics nor Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University had any role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.