A paper, published in the journal Experimental Physiology, suggests a six-week short duration, high-intensity exercise training program to significantly improve insulin sensitivity, as well as muscle size and strength in overweight men.

Insulin sensitivity describes how sensitive the body’s cells are to the effects of insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar and energy absorption. When insulin sensitivity is reduced, blood sugar levels increase. Short-term insulin sensitivity can result in feelings of fatigue but can contribute to heart disease and stroke over time.

For the study, researchers from the University of Glasgow recruited 10 overweight men who trained thrice a week for six weeks. For each training session, the participants performed a single set of nine standard resistance exercises, including leg presses and bicep curls, performed at 80 percent of their maximum single repetition lift until volitional failure. The researchers measured the participants’ muscle size, muscle strength, and insulin sensitivity before and after the training period.

The results showed that insulin sensitivity increased by 16 percent following the exercise program. Muscle size and strength increased after only two weeks of training and continued to increase throughout the study. These findings indicated that short duration, high-intensity exercises effectively improves insulin sensitivity, which may be more appealing and attainable compared with longer duration exercises.

“On top of these results, we know that the gym is not for everyone. Therefore, we also need to see if we can get people doing similar exercises at home without gym equipment, to achieve similarly beneficial effects,” said Stuart Gray, the lead researcher of the study.

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