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Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2019 Mar 18;18(1):34. doi: 10.1186/s12933-019-0840-2.

Effects of combined training with different intensities on vascular health in patients with type 2 diabetes: a 1-year randomized controlled trial.

Author information

Exercise and Health Laboratory, CIPER, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, Estrada da Costa, 1499-002, Cruz-Quebrada, Portugal.
GCP Lab, Ginásio Clube Português, Lisbon, Portugal.
Education and Research Centre, APDP-Diabetes Portugal (APDP-ERC), Lisbon, Portugal.
Military Forces Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal.
Light Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal.
NOVA Medical School, Lisbon, Portugal.
Genetics Laboratory Environmental Health Institute (ISAMB), Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.
Institute of Scientific Research Bento da Rocha Cabral, Lisbon, Portugal.
Exercise and Health Laboratory, CIPER, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Universidade de Lisboa, Estrada da Costa, 1499-002, Cruz-Quebrada, Portugal.



Exercise, when performed on a regular basis, is a well-accepted strategy to improve vascular function in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, the exercise intensity that yields maximal adaptations on structural and functional indices in patients with type 2 diabetes remains uncertain. Our objective was to analyze the impact of a 1-year randomized controlled trial of combined high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with resistance training (RT) vs. a combined moderate continuous training (MCT) with RT on structural and functional arterial indices in patients with type 2 diabetes.


Patients with type 2 diabetes (n = 80) were randomized into an exercise intervention with three groups: control, combined HIIT with RT and combined MCT with RT. The 1-year intervention had 3 weekly exercise sessions. High-resolution ultrasonography of the common carotid artery and central and peripheral applanation tonometry were used to assess the changes in structural and functional arterial indices. Generalized estimating equations were used to model the corresponding outcomes.


After adjusting the models for sex, baseline moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and mean arterial pressure changes, while using the intention-to-treat analysis, a significant interaction was observed on the carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) for both the MCT (β = - 4.25, p < 0.01) and HIIT group (β = - 3.61, p < 0.01). However, only the HIIT observed favorable changes from baseline to 1-year on peripheral arterial stiffness indices such as carotid radial arterial pulse wave velocity (β = - 0.10, p = 0.044), carotid to distal posterior tibial artery pulse wave velocity (β = - 0.14, p < 0.01), and on the distensibility coefficient (β = - 0.00, p < 0.01). No effect was found for hemodynamic variables after the intervention.


Following a 1-year intervention in patients with type 2 diabetes, both the MCT and HIIT group reduced their cIMT, whereas only the HIIT group improved their peripheral arterial stiffness indices and distensibility coefficient. Taken together, HIIT may be a meaningful tool to improve long-term vascular complications in type 2 diabetes. Trial registration ID: NCT03144505.


Arterial stiffness; Distensibility coefficient; High-intensity interval training; Intima-media thickness; Moderate continuous training; Pulse wave velocity

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