A comparison of the health benefits of reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT) and moderate-intensity walking in type 2 diabetes patients

José S. Ruffino, Preeyaphorn Songsorn, Malindi Haggett, Daniel Edmonds, Anthony M. Robinson, Dylan Thompson, Niels B J Vollaard

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Reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training (REHIT) is a genuinely time-efficient intervention that can improve aerobic capacity and insulin sensitivity in sedentary individuals. The present study compared the effects of REHIT and moderateintensity walking on health markers in patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) in a counter-balanced crossover study. Sixteen men with T2D (mean ± SD age: 55 ± 5 years, body mass index: 30.6 ± 2.8 kg·m−2, maximal aerobic capacity: 27 ± 4 mL·kg−1·min−1) completed 8 weeks of REHIT (three 10-min low-intensity cycling sessions/week with two “all-out” 10-20-s sprints) and 8 weeks of moderate-intensity walking (five 30-min sessions/week at an intensity corresponding to 40%-55% of heart-rate reserve), with a 2-month wash-out period between interventions. Before and after each intervention, participants underwent an incremental fitness test, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), a whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, and continuous glucose monitoring. REHIT was associated with a significantly larger increase in maximal aerobic capacity compared with walking (7% vs. 1%; time × intervention interaction effect: p <0.05). Both REHIT and walking decreased resting mean arterial pressure (−4%; main effect of time: p <0.05) and plasma fructosamine (−5%; main effect of time: p <0.05). Neither intervention significantly improved OGTT-derived measures of insulin sensitivity, glycaemic control measured using continuous glucose monitors, blood lipid profile, or body composition. We conclude that REHIT is superior to a 5-fold larger volume of moderate-intensity walking in improving aerobic fitness, but similar to walking REHIT is not an effective intervention for improving insulin sensitivity or glycaemic control in T2D patients in the short term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-208
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number2
Early online date28 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2017



  • Blood pressure
  • Glycaemic control
  • HIT
  • Sprint interval training (SIT)
  • VO

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