Exercise Helps Prevent Diabetes

Learn how exercise helps prevent diabetes

Client Question: I have a question on how exercise helps prevent diabetes. Is it true that exercise and a healthy diet can help reduce the chance of developing diabetes?  If this is true, how can exercise and/or a good nutrition plan help prevent diabetes?

exercise helps prevent diabetesLearn more about exercise helps prevent diabetes and the best ways to work out for this purpose.

Gina's answer: Exercise, whether aerobic or resistance-based strength training, is considered one of the most effective lifestyle habits individuals at risk can adopt to prevent those with the potential to develop diabetes from actually developing the disease. In some instances, exercise has a greater beneficial effect than changing diet or even losing weight on the management of blood sugar! But how?

Exercise causes muscle to be more sensitive to insulin, which is the chemical signal that tells cells to absorb glucose. As a result, exercise speeds the clearance of glucose out of the blood and into muscle cells, which need glucose in higher quantities during times of increased activity. Exercise also increases circulation, thereby making more glucose available for the muscles to absorb.

Certain bodyfat storage and distribution patterns are red flags for a number of health risks. Individuals who have the tendency to store fat around the midsection are often found to have other health risk factors going on such as high triglycerides, high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. The portion of the abdominal fat that resides directly around the organs--known as visceral fat-- as opposed to the subcutaneous portion, which is the fat just beneath the skin, is the biggest culprit for health risks. The good news is that exercise is found to promote abdominal fat loss preferentially over fat stored in other areas of the body. And abdominal fat is the most dangerous kind.

Muscle fibers also change in response to exercise, becoming more responsive to insulin. These exercise-induced muscle fibers also have higher capillary density and greater blood supply. These changes result in lower blood sugar levels and a lowered risk of diabetes.

When you are actively exercising, you will maintain increased muscle mass and along with it the associated higher metabolic demand for blood sugar at all times, including during rest. This makes diabetes less likely to develop.

Many individuals who have to go on medication due to diabetes find that, when a proper exercise program is maintained, they can either reduce or eliminate the medication (with a doctor's supervision).

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