The title for the latest study on diabetes, “Lowering Physical Inactivity impairs Glycemic Control in Healthy Volunteers,” is trying to establish the relationship between an inactive lifestyle and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The obesity epidemic is upon us, both adults and children. This is something we can not ignore. A sedentary lifestyle is one that can lead to weight gain and possibly diabetes, and all the complications that come with it.
The study was conducted by University of Missouri‘s John Thyfault, an assistant professor in MU’s departments of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and Internal Medicine. He discovered that blood sugar was effected when exercise was reduced or eliminated.
The study had 12 participants total, all healthy and around 20-35 years old. Patients were advised to maintain the same eating habits throughout the length of the trial. They were instructed to wear pedometers to track their steps for 7 days. All the participants took on average 10,00 steps per day during this time. Patients were excluded if they had a BMI over 30, were a smoker, pregnant, breastfeeding, consumed more than fourteen alcoholic beverages per week, or participated in competitive endurance sports.
The next 3 days of the trial they were told to cut their step total in half, down to about 5,000 steps per day. They each had a device that measured their blood sugar levels all day long and also tested themselves with a glucometer four times per day. The study found that post-meal blood sugars were higher and that insulin levels were higher as well. The patients’ bodies compensated by producing more insulin to bring the blood sugar to an appropriate level. High post-meal blood sugars about 2 hours after a meal are an indicator of diabetes. To get a better understanding of this concept, more trials will need to be conducted with a larger more diverse population.
Exercise can have an effect on the blood sugar for almost 48 hours. It can also lower blood pressure, lipids, reduce stress, depression and help you get more restful sleep. I highly recommend that my diabetic patients check their blood sugars before and after workouts to ensure their levels do not become too low. I also suggest a small snack like an orange prior to or post-workout. A protein bar afterward may also help keep blood sugar levels more stable.
Diabetics are advised to do a combination of cardio, weight training and flexibility training with some form of yoga or Pilates. Everyone should build a consistent exercise habit for lasting health, but it is even more imperative for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels naturally.