Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity in Diabetes

Updated at: Oct 12, 2012
Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity in Diabetes

Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity in Diabetes – Whether you are a diabetic or have a high risk of developing diabetes, exercising will be helpful in improving your body's ability to use insulin. Moderate workout helps improve insulin sensitiv

Himanshu Sharma
DiabetesWritten by: Himanshu SharmaPublished at: Oct 12, 2012

Physical activity is counted among the effective ways  to improve insulin resistance, which is essential to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes. Improving insulin resistance is essential for controlling blood sugar levels for a diabetic, so that he/she can live a complication-free life.

The primary function of insulin hormone is to lower blood glucose levels by letting glucose enter the cells of the body. A common characteristic of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, can occur in type 1 diabetics too. The good news for diabetics is that they can make lifestyle modifications such as engaging in physical activity and eating to manage insulin sensitivity.


[Read: What is Normal Insulin Levels in Diabetes?]

Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity

A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh found the connection between exercise dose and improvements in insulin sensitivity. Fifty-five healthy individuals were observed during a 16-week endurance exercise intervention program.

Insulin sensitivity of the subjects was assessed by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp, peak oxygen uptake by a graded exercise test and body composition by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The exercise regimen had three to five sessions a week in which besides regular exercise sessions, kilocalories expended every week and duration and frequency of exercises were also accounted for. At the end of the program, observers saw an improved insulin resistance in those who improved physical endurance.


[Read: How to Control Diabetes with Exercise]


How Physical Activities help Manage Insulin Sensitivity

Physical activities in tandem with aerobic activities, such as brisk walking, swimming and cycling have positive influence on insulin resistance. To enhance insulin sensitivity, aerobic training has to be intense or should be done for an extended period of time. Before starting a workout regimen, you must consult your doctor to confirm if the exercise you want to engage in is complication-free.

  • Those with type 1 diabetes may improve heart health, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and weight with regular engagement in fitness activities alongside administering blood glucose levels.
  • Exercise is an elementary aspect of a treatment plan for Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends those who are insulin-resistant to do exercises regularly. Exercising regularly helps a Type 2 diabetic lose weight and lower the need for  insulin-dosage.


[Read: Ways to Take Insulin Treatment in Diabetes]

Moderate physical activity, weight control and healthful eating are the parameters suggested by the American Medical Association to reduce HbA1c levels that measure blood glucose. Exercising regularly not only improves insulin sensitivity but also helps lower blood glucose levels .

Besides regular exercise, insulin resistance can be improved with right sleeping habits, moderating stress levels and reducing inflammatory response.

Read more articles on Diabetes



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