Exercise Improves Blood Glucose Control in Type 2 Diabetes

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Many people with diabetes note that their blood sugar control improves when they start a walking program. Now they have research evidence to back up that observation. The research review found that in those with type 2 diabetes, exercise helped regulate blood glucose, improved the body's insulin sensitivity, decreased blood lipids while helping burn body fat.

Exercise Studied Independent of Diet or Drugs

The study reviewed data from 14 different trials of people with type 2 diabetes who were assigned either no exercise or an exercise regimen.
The type and duration of exercise varied between the different studies, but most used hour-long sessions three times a week.

Exercise Improved Hemoglobin A1C Levels

Participants who exercised had an overall decrease of 0.6 percent of A1C levels. The researchers noted that this is the amount of improvement clinicians hope to see if prescribing medication to regulate blood sugar. Hemoglobin A1C levels are considered to be the best marker of long term blood sugar control. This finding was more than just a statistic, it showed a real improvement in the condition of those who exercised.

Exercise Results in Fat Loss

The exercisers also lost body fat, although they may not have seen a decrease in weight as they replaced unhealthy fat with healthy muscle. Those exercising also had a decrease in blood lipid levels.

The Exercise Prescription for Type II Diabetes

How much walking do you need for diabetes control?
A previous study set the level at 38 minutes or 4400 steps per day to achieve an improvement in Hemoglobin A1C levels. How Much Walking Do You Need to Control Diabetes?

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Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, and Naughton GA. "Exercise for type 2 diabetes mellitus," (Review). The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 3.

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