Exercise Fights Diabetes

Aug 17, 2004 12:23 PM EDT

A recent study suggests that exercise is a major tool in the fight against many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

The study, published in the journal Diabetes, documented the impact of activity on the effect of insulin in 102 adults ages 21 to 87.

Exercise boosts insulin sensitivity

Insulin regulates glucose levels in the body, preventing its accumulation in the blood. As people age, insulin may become less effective, a condition that can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, particularly if a person is overweight or inactive. It has been speculated that exercise boosts insulin sensitivity and may prevent diabetes, but there was little evidence regarding the amount of exercise needed to prevent the condition.

Researchers put 65 of the subjects on a four-month bicycle-training program then measured their insulin activity four days after the end of training. Insulin activity was improved in younger people, ages 21 to 39, but not in those over 40.

It also remained the same in the 37 people who weren't included in the training program.

Prolonged exercise needed

Previous studies have shown that insulin effectiveness is improved in older people one day after aerobic exercise. This current study, however, has found that the effect is not a prolonged one, as research indicated insulin activity rapidly returned to pre-exercise levels in older adults. The study’s doctors suggested that their findings be considered in designing exercise programs for middle-aged and older adults.


1. K. R. Short; et al., “Impact of Aerobic Exercise Training on Age-Related Changes in Insulin Sensitivity and Muscle Oxidative Capacity,” Diabetes, 52: 1888-1896.