Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Aerobic exercise can be a treatment for people with diabetes

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An analysis of the positive effects of exercise on blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes showed that although all exercise helps, certain activities – and their timing – are more beneficial to patients’ health.

The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, provides a comprehensive and straightforward summary of the benefits of exercise in controlling blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

“We targeted this problem by focusing on a few key criteria: the benefit of aerobic exercise and weight lifting, and the optimal time to exercise, whether to exercise before or after a meal, and whether or not to lose weight to get the benefits.”

As part of the analysis, the researchers examined dozens of studies and drew general conclusions. Some key findings include:


Habitual Aerobic Exercise: Physical activities like cycling, swimming and walking increase the heart rate and the body’s oxygen utilization to help regulate blood glucose.


Resistance training: Muscles that use a resistance force, such as resistance bands or one’s own body weight, improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.


Interspersing your sedentary time with movement throughout the day is beneficial for controlling blood glucose and insulin levels.

Exercising later in the day can better control blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

“In short, any movement is good, and more generally is better,” Mallon said. “A combination of aerobic exercise and weight lifting is better than either alone. Exercise in the afternoon works better than exercise in the morning for glucose control, and exercise after a meal helps slightly more than before a meal.” Weight loss is essential to see the benefits of diet exercise, because exercise can reduce body fat and increase muscle mass.

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More than 37 million Americans have prediabetes, and 90 to 95 percent have type 2 diabetes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with type 2 diabetes are considered insulin resistant, meaning their cells do not normally respond to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar or glucose levels.

Scientists believe that while insulin resistance is harmful, increasing insulin sensitivity is beneficial. Greater insulin sensitivity allows the body’s cells to use the glucose in the blood more efficiently, which lowers blood sugar.

Malin researches insulin sensitivity and teaches kinesiology, the study of human movement. He and many other faculty members at Rutgers University support the concept of “exercise as medicine.” An idea supported by the American College of Sports Medicine and increasingly confirmed by research, exercise can be considered a first-line treatment.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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