Type 2 diabetes affects millions of people across the globe. It is estimated that in the next 20 years, the overall incidence of diabetes may double or even triple. While there seems to be a lot of research currently conducted in the field of diabetes, the best treatment that is still available is diet and exercise.
Currently, the American Heart Association recommends performing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise in order to stay healthy. However, when it comes to managing diabetes, it is likely that more exercise is required.
The definition of moderate intensity aerobic exercise is one where the individual performing the exercise feels breathless and is unable to speak comfortably in a full sentence. Some examples of moderate intensity aerobic exercises include jogging, brisk walking, swimming and cycling. Any sporting activities such as tennis or badminton are also included in this category.
So how can exercise reverse Type 2 diabetes?
There are a number of different mechanisms that have been postulated. Here we shall take a brief look at how exercise can help improve blood sugar control and possibly even reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity
One of the most common underlying mechanisms of development of diabetes is insulin resistance. This refers to a resistance of the tissues in the body to the actions of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is released by the pancreas that is responsible for pushing glucose that is absorbed from food into the cells to provide them with energy.
If the cells itself become insulin resistant, they cannot get the glucose that is required for them to function normally.
From clinical trials, it is now evident that aerobic exercise can improve insulin sensitivity in people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. While the recommendations made pertain to moderate intensity exercise, it has been shown that even exercise of a mild intensity may have some effect on the blood sugars.
Additional research has shown that one single bout of aerobic exercise of moderate intensity can improve and enhanced sensitivity to insulin for up to 72 hours. It is therefore important that all people with diabetes exercise every day in order to maintain this positive effect.
Exercise reduces body fat
It is well-known that regular exercise can help reduce fat around the abdomen. A low body fat has been shown to improve blood sugar control.
Obesity is a common problem in Type 2 diabetes. If one were to lose significant amounts of weight over a period of time, then blood sugar control can become a lot easier. In fact, some patients who have exercised regularly and have lost a good amount of weight have been able to reverse their diabetes completely.
Exercise improves the health of the heart
By keeping the heart pumping at a faster rate, exercise can strengthen the heart muscle and improve its efficiency.
Exercise also helps reduce cholesterol levels and allows for good blood pressure control. These two factors are important in the prevention of heart disease, which is highly prevalent in individuals with diabetes.
Exercise allows better blood sugar control
The current medical evidence suggests that those individuals who perform regular exercise can reduce their blood glucose levels by nearly 20%.
When combined with improve insulin sensitivity, exercise can most certainly help individuals take complete charge of their blood sugar levels.
Exercise and diabetes management go hand in hand. For those individuals who are serious about reversing their diabetes, exercise can play an important role in helping them reach their goal.