Posted on Jul 18, 2023, 7 p.m.
A study recently published in The Journal of Medicine provides a straightforward summary of the benefits of exercise in controlling blood glucose levels among those with type 2 diabetes, the analysis of the positive effects of exercise on blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes shows that while all exercise helps, certain activities and their timing are extremely good for health.
According to the CDC, over 37 million Americans have diabetes and of those 90-95% have type 2 diabetes. Those with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant, which means that their cells do not respond normally to insulin hormones that control the level of sugar/glucose in the blood and this can be damaging to the body leading to serious health issues. While insulin resistance can be harmful, some believe that increased insulin sensitivity can be beneficial, allowing the cells to use blood glucose more effectively, reducing blood sugar.
"The challenge with this is that most, if not all, people know exercise is good for them but they don't know the best approach," said Steven Malin, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences and an author of the study. "We targeted this issue by focusing on a few key parameters: the utility of aerobics versus weightlifting, the time of day that is optimal for exercise, whether to exercise before or after meals and whether we have to lose weight to get benefits or not."
According to the researchers, some of their key findings include:
- Habitual aerobic exercise: Physical activity, such as cycling, swimming and walking, that increases the heart rate and the body's use of oxygen helps manage blood glucose.
- Resistance exercise: Working muscles using an opposing force such as dumbbells, resistance bands or a person's own body weight benefits insulin sensitivity in those with Type 2 diabetes.
- Movement throughout the day by breaking up sitting time benefits blood glucose control and insulin levels.
- Performing exercise later in the day can result in better control of blood sugar levels as well as improve insulin sensitivity.
"In short, any movement is good and more is generally better," Malin said. "The combination of aerobic exercise and weightlifting is likely better than either alone. Exercise in the afternoon might work better than exercise in the morning for glucose control, and exercise after a meal may help slightly more than before a meal. And, you don't have to lose weight to see the benefits of exercise. That is because exercise can lower body fat and increase muscle mass."
"I'm one of those individuals who subscribes to that notion, and in that way, I think of exercise as a drug," Malin said. "Together, this idea of exercise timing and type is important because it helps medical professionals more accurately recommend exercise prescriptions to combat high blood glucose.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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