Exercise to Decrease Diabetes
by Thomas Christ, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
According to the American Diabetes Association over 23 million adults in the United States suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Even more concerning is that the World Health Organization estimates that over 170 million people worldwide are diabetic with that number expected to more than double to 366 million by 2030.
The good news, however, is that exercise can significantly reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes and can greatly improve the quality of life in those who already have type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is most commonly associated with insulin resistance, as 80% of type 2 diabetics are insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is a result of chronic inflammation that occurs from several unhealthy lifestyle factors such as a sedentary life, a poor diet, lack of sleep, smoking, and—by far most common—from excess fat. 55% of type 2 diabetics are obese, and 85% are overweight. This chronic inflammation causes a series of metabolic reactions that dramatically decreases the number of insulin receptors our muscles contain.
Insulin works with our muscles to transport the nutrients we eat from our blood stream into our muscles. Each muscle has millions of designated insulin receptors which act as doorways for the insulin to transport the nutrients into the muscle through. When people become insulin resistant, the number of these insulin receptors decreases dramatically and it becomes very difficult for our muscles to receive the nutrients they need to function during daily activities. This causes the nutrients to remain in the blood stream and eventually become stored as fat.
So type 2 diabetes most commonly occurs because of excess fat accumulation, leading to inflammation, leading to insulin resistance, but also because of the insulin resistance type 2 diabetics will typically continue to gain more weight if no lifestyle changes are made.
Luckily several studies conducted at various universities around the world have shown that both cardiovascular and resistance exercise help reduce insulin resistance. Studies published by the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, The Journal of Physiology, The European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, and many more have shown that when our muscles contract during exercise they actually release potent anti-inflammatory “cytokines” which are molecules that will fight against inflammation and help reduce insulin resistance. Additionally, both cardiovascular and resistance exercise will decrease fat accumulation lessening, or preventing the chronic inflammation that leads to insulin resistance.
Cardio workouts can burn a lot of calories and, if performed regularly, can effectively reduce fat mass. Resistance training will also burn calories during the workout, and the additional muscle mass will burn several more calories throughout the day even at rest! (every 1lbs of muscle gained burns 10 calories a day). As far as which method of exercise is better for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes, they both are effective but studies show that insulin resistance is reduced by far the most from a combination of both cardio and resistance exercise.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of exercise on diabetes, check out the diabetes management track in our p.r.e.p. program or contact acac West Chester personal trainer Tom Christ at ThomasCh@acac.com.
Enjoy 50% off personal training with Tom Christ this June! Tom’s training specialties include:
– science-based training for special populations
– weight loss training
– small group TRX training
– using multiple modalities for optimum results
Offer valid June 1 – June 30, 2016 at acac West Chester. First time participants only. Up to 12 sessions. To book your session, stop by the Fitness Desk or contact Tom at ThomasCh@acac.com.