Effect of Physical Activity on Insulin Resistance

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A new report, based on data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), suggests that Insulin resistance is a predictor of cardiovascular risk and the development of diabetes. A new report, based on data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), suggests that insulin levels may be modulated by physical activity. One more benefit of a moderate exercise program.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the body’s use of energy molecules including carbohydrates, fats and protein. Insulin resistance — or conversely, sensitivity — refers to the body’s response to insulin. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a condition of high insulin resistance which results in elevated levels of sugar in the blood due to ineffective response to normal insulin signaling.

Physical activity is associated with decreasing one’s risk of developing diseases such as obesity and diabetes. In addition, decreased levels of activity are associated with an increase in biomarkers that can contribute to the development of insulin resistance. According to the CDC, exercise is a key component to lifestyle therapy for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) sought to examine the relationship of physical activity and inactivity, to insulin resistance and biomarkers of inflammation. Participants were asked to wear accelerometers during the day to estimate the amount of physical activity, as well as time spent being less active (“sedentary time”). These measurements were then compared to chemical markers of insulin resistance, inflammation and metabolism found in blood.

Fight Diabetes with Physical Activity

Exercise may delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes and improve diabetes control. Whether you are at risk for diabetes or are looking for ways to help keep your blood sugar levels in check, get moving!

Physical activity:

  • Raises your heart rate. Whether by walking briskly, jogging, bicycling or swimming, being active gets your heart pumping, which helps your body use insulin more efficiently.
  • Improves blood circulation. Physical activity also helps the blood get flowing to all organs, especially the kidneys, brain, heart and eyes, which can be injured by poor diabetes management.
  • Decreases risk of heart disease. Regular activity can help reduce your risk of heart disease by playing a role in lowering blood pressure and may improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
  • Reduces stress. Stress can increase your risk for developing diabetes. And, for people with diabetes, stress can make it harder to manage the condition.
  • Lowers blood sugar and A1c. Being physically active when you have diabetes helps to lower blood sugar, even hours later, and reduce A1c levels over time. It also may improve protein and fat metabolism, slowing organ damage.

Strength training is also important for those with diabetes, just two or three sessions of strength training each week is all it takes. The more muscle mass you have, the better your body can handle blood sugar. Working muscles first use stored sugars and then blood sugars for energy. Muscle also burns more calories than fat. Lifting weights, sit-ups, pushups, and resistance exercises will help.

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or any other health concern, check with your health care provider before beginning a new physical activity program. Exercise is a key to successful diabetes management. Ensure you have the right snacks on hand to avoid dangerous blood sugar dips.

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