Diabetologia

, Volume 57, Issue 7, pp 1437–1445

‘Exercise snacks’ before meals: a novel strategy to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance

  • Monique E. Francois
  • James C. Baldi
  • Patrick J. Manning
  • Samuel J. E. Lucas
  • John A. Hawley
  • Michael J. A. Williams
  • James D. Cotter
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00125-014-3244-6

Cite this article as:
Francois, M.E., Baldi, J.C., Manning, P.J. et al. Diabetologia (2014) 57: 1437. doi:10.1007/s00125-014-3244-6

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

The aim of this study was to investigate whether small doses of intense exercise before each main meal (‘exercise snacks’) would result in better blood glucose control than a single bout of prolonged, continuous, moderate-intensity exercise in individuals with insulin resistance.

Methods

Nine individuals completed three exercise interventions in randomised order. Measures were recorded across 3 days with exercise performed on the middle day, as either: (1) traditional continuous exercise (CONT), comprising 30 min moderate-intensity (60% of maximal heart rate [HRmax]) incline walking before dinner; (2) exercise snacking (ES), consisting of 6 × 1 min intense (90% HRmax) incline walking intervals 30 min before each meal; or (3) composite exercise snacking (CES), encompassing 6 × 1 min intervals alternating between walking and resistance-based exercise, 30 min before meals. Meal timing and composition were controlled within participants for exercise interventions.

Results

ES attenuated mean 3 h postprandial glucose concentration following breakfast (by 1.4 ± 1.5 mmol/l, p = 0.02) but not lunch (0.4 ± 1.0 mmol/l, p = 0.22), and was more effective than CONT following dinner (0.7 ± 1.5 mmol/l below CONT; p = 0.04). ES also reduced 24 h mean glucose concentration by 0.7 ± 0.6 mmol/l (p = 0.01) and this reduction persisted for the subsequent 24 h (lower by 0.6 ± 0.4 mmol/l vs CONT, relative to their baselines; p = 0.01). CES was just as effective as ES (p > 0.05 for all glycaemic variables) at improving glycaemic control.

Conclusions/interpretation

Dosing exercise as brief, intense ‘exercise snacks’ before main meals is a time-efficient and effective approach to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance.

Keywords

Continuous glucose monitoringHigh-intensity interval exercisePostprandial glucoseType 2 diabetes

Abbreviations

CVD

Cardiovascular disease

CES

Composite exercise snacking

CGM

Continuous blood glucose monitoring

CONT

Traditional continuous exercise

ES

Exercise snacking protocol

HIT

High-intensity interval training

HR

Heart rate

HRmax

Maximal heart rate

PPG

Postprandial glucose

RER

Respiratory exchange ratio

RPE

Rating of perceived exertion

\( \dot{V}{\mathrm{O}}_{2 \max } \)

Maximal oxygen consumption

Supplementary material

125_2014_3244_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (142 kb)
ESM Methods(PDF 142 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monique E. Francois
    • 1
  • James C. Baldi
    • 2
  • Patrick J. Manning
    • 2
  • Samuel J. E. Lucas
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • John A. Hawley
    • 5
    • 6
  • Michael J. A. Williams
    • 2
  • James D. Cotter
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  4. 4.School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  5. 5.Exercise and Nutrition Research Group, Department of Exercise Sciences, Faculty of Health SciencesAustralian Catholic UniversityFitzroyAustralia
  6. 6.Research Institute for Sport and Exercise SciencesLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK