Exercise More Important than Weight Loss for Diabetes Prevention

Exercise is even more important than weight loss for prevention or control of diabetes, according to a report from the Australian National University in Canberra. Dr. Richard Telford concludes that obesity is associated with, but does not cause, diabetes, heart disease and premature death. The health benefits of exercise include increasing cells' ability to respond to insulin, lowering blood sugar levels, and preventing all the side effects of diabetes. Weight loss is not necessary for a person to gain these benefits from an exercise program. Journal references

Most cases of Type II diabetes are caused by the body's inability to respond to insulin. Strengthening muscles makes cells more responsive to insulin. Your ability to respond to insulin depends on the ability of muscles to burn oxygen without producing excessive free radicals (called oxidative capacity). When your body converts food to energy, it produces free radicals that can damage the DNA in your cells to shorten life. Exercise causes cells to burn food for energy more efficiently, without producing large amounts of free radicals.

Thirty-five percent of Americans today can expect to become diabetic. To help prevent diabetes or heart disease, most people should exercise for about an hour a day, alternating vigorous and easy days. If they still have high blood sugar levels, they probably need to exercise more and may also need to take medications. More on treatment of insulin resistance


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