Low Volume High-Intensity Training for Artery Health

One complication of Type 2 diabetes is damaged arteries. According to researchers in Iran low volume, high-intensity training is helpful for improving the arterial blood flow, at least in the brachial artery located in the arm. It is the artery usually used to measure blood pressure.

In June 2018, the journal Experimental Physiology reported on the Iranian study conducted at the University of Tehran and several other universities. A total of 75 participants diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and with high or borderline high blood pressure were divided into three groups…

  • the low volume, high-intensity interval training group, exercised for 1.5 minutes at 85 to 90 percent of maximal heart rate and 2 minutes at 55 to 60 percent of their maximum heart rate. This regimen was performed 12 times over a period of 12 weeks.
  • the continuous moderate intensity training group performed 42 minutes of exercise at 70 percent of maximum heart rate three times a week for 12 weeks.
  • the third group carried out no training.

The low volume, high-intensity training group showed an improvement in the blood flow through their brachial arteries. The other two groups showed no significant improvement. The improvement was due to the increased amount of nitrate, which dilates blood vessels to allow a greater blood flow.

Maximum heart rate is defined as the highest number of heart beats per minute when the heart is working at its maximum ability. It is usually calculated as 220 minus the individual’s age…

  • a 40-year-old would have a maximum heart rate of 180, and 90 percent of maximum would be about 160.
  • low volume, high intensity for that individual would consist of performing physical activity that brought the heart rate up to 160 beats per minute for 1.5 minutes.

The internet has numerous examples of high-intensity interval training. Some examples might be sprinting uphill or across a gym floor pushing a sled with weights. Some exercisers perform “mountain climbers” where they place both their hands flat on the floor directly under their shoulders, with legs stretched out behind their body. You then “climb” by running your feet forward and backward as hard as you can as if going up a steep mountain.

Before embarking on training, you need to discuss the possibilities with your doctor. People who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are considered to have the same needs as those people who have had one heart attack, so have a check-up first.