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Great News For Diabetics - A Little Exercise Means A Lot

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 5:51 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Diabetics, Type 2 Diabetes, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Insulin, Exercise, Living Well

Small bursts of energy helped insulin levels in this study.



IMAGE SOURCE: ©Wikimedia Commons / waist circumference / author: Pharos, FDA Dietary Guidelines


An exercise program that requires three minutes a day

It sounds too good  to be true, but a study finds that three minutes of high intensity exercise, even every other day, may be enough to keep diabetes at bay.  That is the suggestion of a small clinical study in Scotland, reported in BMC Endocrine Disorders.

Brief exercise was found to improve blood glucose levels and insulin action in healthy volunteers.  In all, they underwent six training sessions that amounted to a total of 15 minutes.

The beauty of the brief exercise is that it is more likely a sedentary type of person will engage in small amounts of intense activity, which appear to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Generally, diabetics are told to engage in moderate or vigorous exercise for several hours each week. 

"We speculated that it should be possible to substantially improve insulin action using high-intensity interval training despite a negligible contribution to total energy expenditure as this training model would substantially reduce muscle glycogen stores."

In other words, a brief burst of exercise enhances insulin’s ability to wipe excess sugar out of the bloodstream.

The researchers recruited 16 healthy young men with an average age of 21.  None was involved in any particular exercise program. 

Over two weeks, they completed six sessions of high intensity interval training consisting of four to six 30-second sprints on a stationary bike.  After two weeks, measurements of blood glucose (sugar in the blood), insulin, and non-esterified fatty acids were reduced by 12 percent, 37 percent and 26 percent.

In addition, the aerobic performance improved by about six percent and insulin sensitivity improved by 23 percent, when whole body insulin was measured. 

The authors conclude, “The efficacy of a high intensity exercise protocol, involving only ~250 kcal work each week, to substantially improve insulin action in young sedentary subjects is remarkable. We feel this novel time-efficient training paradigm can be used as a strategy to reduce metabolic risk factors in young and middle aged sedentary populations who otherwise would not adhere to a classic high volume, time consuming exercise regimes.”

The work was conducted at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, in research led by James Timmons.  The authors do not advise any particular optimal exercise regimen, but Timmons says even a little exercise could translate into hundreds of millions of dollars in savings spent treating diabetes.  

It’s estimated by the National Changing Diabetes Program (NCDP), based on sampling data from 2005, that one out of every eight U.S. federal dollars goes toward treating diabetes. The study found that federal health authorities spent in fiscal year 2005 over $79 billion treating people with diabetes and diabetes complications.

Obesity rates among adults have surged in 37 states over the last year, according to the fifth annual F as in Fat report. 25 percent of adults are obese in 28 states, up from 19 states last year.

Diabetes affects about 246 million adults worldwide and is characterized by the body’s inability to use food for energy using insulin.  The condition is closely linked to an inactive lifestyle.  # 

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