Exercise Can Limit Diabetes: New Study’s Findings

Many of humankind’s health issues seem to have begun when he stopped walking everywhere and laboring in the fields for his living.  The automobile may have been one of the worst things to happen to us as a species.  Now people everywhere struggle to control their weight, diet until they are miserable, force themselves to go jogging or to the gym, and still heart disease and diabetes cases soar.

We all know people who keep active even into old age, and manage to stay slim, trim and fit just by walking their dogs or refusing to take the bus for short journeys to the shops.  These people, say scientists, will be far less likely to develop diabetes as they age.

We probably also know people who used to live an active life and stay slim, but have piled on the pounds since they retired or gave up their exercise regime, and are now overweight and unhealthy.

Doctors have been aware for some time that exercise can moderate the effects of diabetes, keeping blood sugar low and combating other symptoms.  Now a new study of people living their daily lives, rather than volunteering in a laboratory, suggests that not only is exercise good for diabetics, but that lack of it may have caused their disease in the first place.

At theUniversityofMissouri John Thyfault, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology studied 12 healthy volunteers aged between 28 and 30, implanting glucose monitors under their skin for the duration of the tests.  The subjects stayed within their normal everyday routines, but had their blood sugar levels monitored over two three-day periods.

In the first period, they kept to their usual exercise levels, which were good, involving at least the 10,000 steps recommended by doctors for fitness.  For the second three-day test they were asked to eat exactly the same as they normally would but become couch potatoes, doing less than half the exercise they would normally take.

During each test, the glucose monitors under their skins measured their blood sugar three times, at 30-minute intervals after eating.  On the fourth day after each test, they were asked to come to the laboratory and were given a sugary drink equivalent to tea or coffee with 18 teaspoons of sugar in it.  Their blood sugar levels were then tested over a two-hour period.

Thyfault found a normal response to eating in the tests taken during the normal exercise period, and the subjects also responded normally to the sugary drink given in the lab.

However, during the lower exercise period the subjects’ blood sugar levels shot up much higher after eating, a response, which scientists believe, contributes in the long term to insulin resistance and then diabetes.  When they were given the sweet drink, the professor was surprised to find their blood sugar responses were the same as after the first, high exercise, test.  He thought that this must be due to their bodies producing more insulin as a response to insulin resistance provoked by lower exercise.

Prof Thyfault said, “Reducing exercise or stopping it altogether, even for a few days, causes acute changes that are associated with diabetes, and they’re changes that often happen before people gain weight or become obese.”

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