However, the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found exercise while under hypoxic conditions -- low oxygen concentrations -- provides greater improvement in glycemic control than intermittent exercise alone.
Richard Mackenzie of the University of Westminster in London said exercise improves glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes but previous studies have focused on continuous aerobic exercise with more recent work assessing resistance exercise. There are few studies that assess the effects of intermittent exercise on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes.
The study involved eight men with type 2 diabetes who completed three exercise trials -- 60 minutes of continuous exercise in hypoxia, intermittent exercise in hypoxia and intermittent exercise in a normal oxygen environment.
Researchers found both intermittent and continuous exercise with and without hypoxia consistently demonstrated improvements in insulin sensitivity.
"Current guidelines suggest that health benefits can be gained when patients with type 2 diabetes spend 30 minutes exercising each day, but published data have failed to show intermittent exercise to be effective," Mackenzie said in a statement.