Compared to a regular continuous walking program, interval walking is superior for improving physical fitness, body composition (body mass and fatness), and blood sugar control according to new research reported in Diabetes Care. Study participants were type 2 diabetics.
Training groups were prescribed five sessions per week (60 min/session) and were controlled with an accelerometer and a heart-rate monitor. Continuous walkers performed all training at moderate intensity, whereas interval walkers alternated 3-min repetitions at low and high intensity. Before and after the 4-month intervention, the following variables were measured: VO2max, body composition, and glycemic control (fasting glucose, HbA1c, oral glucose tolerance test, and continuous glucose monitoring.
I haven’t read the full report yet, but expect that the interval walkers walked as fast as they could for three minutes (4 mph?) then slowed down to a comfortable stroll (1–2 mph?) for three minutes, alternating thusly for 60 minutes.
This should easily do-able for nearly all type 2 diabetics. The reported results jive with other studies of more vigorous and intimidating interval training. The only caveat is that it was a small pilot study that may or may not be reproducible.
Steve Parker, M.D.