What is it about?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that can possibly help average blood glucose levels (the A1c) in people with type 1 diabetes. Adults with type 1 diabetes often have overweight or obesity, and they can be sedentary. We undertook a clinical trial of this exercise in adults with type 1 diabetes who were overweight or obese and were not exercising regularly. Our study showed overall results to support the concept that HIIT can improve A1c levels across a 12 week exercise program, especially in those who undertake most of their scheduled exercise. These outcomes can be realised in a safe manner for the person with diabetes, also improving aspects of their fitness.

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Why is it important?

Exercise in people with type 1 diabetes, especially HIIT, has not been extensively studied. This is especially in adults with type 1 diabetes who have overweight or obesity. This study demonstrates that the A1c can be improved in such patients with regular HIIT. Such data in the past has been lacking in clinical care for people with type 1 diabetes and their clinical team. The study also shows that while A1c improves, low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia) due to exercise can be largely minimised during HIIT as advised and supervised by an experienced health care team.


This trial of exercise provides some much needed data affirming that A1c levels can be safely improved in adults who have type 1 diabetes with overweight or obesity who undertake high intensity interval training. The study provides a practical approach and regimen to realising such outcomes for many adults with type 1 diabetes. If an improvement in the A1c is sustained longer term by regular HIIT exercise then that outcome would be expected to lead to reduced long term complications in people with type 1 diabetes.

Stephen Twigg
University of Sydney

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Glycemic Control in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes and Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial With Partial Crossover, Diabetes Care, July 2020, American Diabetes Association,
DOI: 10.2337/dc20-0342.
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