HIIT and Reversing the Damage of Diabetes

This is the first study to demonstrate improvements in cardiac structure and function to be recorded following an exercise intervention in type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death not just in the U.S., but the world. According to the CDC, roughly 610,000 people die of heart disease every year. That’s around 25% of the deaths in the country. These are largely the result of obesity, genetic heart conditions, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and all the other risk factors that lead to heart disease.

But what if there was a simple way to prevent heart disease? What if doing something for a few minutes per day or hours per week could drastically reduce and even reverse health problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease? Wouldn’t you want to do it?

That’s right, we’re talking about exercise. Everyone knows that exercise is the best way to fight off heart problems, reduce body fat, and prevent diabetes. But did you know that exercise can actually reverse the effects of heart disease?

A study published by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes found that HIIT exercise can improve both diabetes control (over blood sugar levels) and heart structure in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can drastically increase the risk of heart disease, including complications that can be fatal. Diabetes specifically affects the function and structure of the left ventricle, which is your heart’s primary pump. To date, there are no clinical treatments that can reverse the damage caused by diabetes.

However, after studying the effects of HIIT exercise on 23 diabetics, researchers found that the high-intensity exercise can improve the function and structure of the heart. Specifically, the exercise benefitted the heart’s left ventricle, strengthening it and helping it to work more efficiently. It also helped to improve diabetes control.

For the first time, something can help to reverse the damage done to your body (to your heart, specifically) by diabetes. HIIT exercise can do wonders to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, but it will also decrease your risk of heart disease and prevent diabetes from damaging the most important organ in your body.

If you’re worried about heart disease—especially disease caused or exacerbated by diabetes—it’s time to put on those running shoes and try some high-intensity interval training. You can reverse the damage done to your heart and decrease the risk of future cardiac events. With just a few minutes (10 to 20) per day, you’ll see serious improvement in your health and give yourself a fighting chance at a long, healthy life.


1. Sophie Cassidy, Christian Thoma, Kate Hallsworth, Jehill Parikh, Kieren G. Hollingsworth, Roy Taylor, Djordje G. Jakovljevic, Michael I. Trenell. “High intensity intermittent exercise improves cardiac structure and function and reduces liver fat in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial.Diabetologia, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-015-3741-2.