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Exercise Increases Insulin Sensitivity in Diabetics

Research has shown increased insulin sensitivity in the extremities with as little as seven days of exercise. Aerobic exercise was known to help but it was unclear whether those gains were in the liver or the extremities.

Dr. Jason J. Winnick from the Department of Molecular Physiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues at Ohio State University, Columbus, studied the effect of seven days of aerobic exercise for 18 obese adults that had type 2 diabetes. They were taken off their diabetes medications and given a balanced diet of 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein for 15 days.

Nine were randomly selected during the second week to use a treadmill for 50 minutes a day at 70% of maximum oxygen consumption. Those that walked at moderate intensity had a large increase in the bodyís ability to use glucose.

"In particular, blood glucose after a meal may be improved due to improved muscle glucose uptake, despite not showing a change in the fasting blood glucose level," Winnick explained. It is likely, the researcher added, that without restricting calories, it takes more than a week to improve insulin sensitivity in the liver among those with diabetes.

It is notable that in spite of stopping diabetes medications, fasting blood glucose levels didnít change. This means that glucose metabolism can be improved within a week of starting an exercise program.

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