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Type 2 Diabetes and Exercise
For most individuals with Type 2 diabetes, regular exercise improves glycemic control, reduces certain heart disease risk factors, improves psychological well-being, and promotes weight reduction.
The major aim of therapy for type 2 diabetes patients is to improve insulin sensitivity through appropriate use of diet, exercise, and weight reduction. In contrast to results with type 1 patients, regular exercise by persons with non-insulin dependent diabetes does lead to improved long-term diabetic control.
For obese type 2 diabetes patients on insulin, exercise and weight reduction can reduce insulin requirements by up to 100 percent. Improved glucose control has been shown for both middle-aged and elderly non-insulin dependent patients who exercise regularly, due in part to the frequent lowering of the blood glucose level and enhancement of insulin sensitivity with each exercise session.
According to the ADA, “Patients who are most likely to respond favorably are those with mildly to moderately impaired glucose tolerance and hyperinsulinemia.” The ADA cautions that the benefits of exercise typically outweigh the risks if attention is given to “minimizing potential exercise complications.” All individuals with type 2 diabetes who are about to start an exercise program should have a thorough medical exam to uncover previously undiagnosed complications due to diabetes.
In one seven-year study of 548 diabetes patients at the University of Pittsburgh, regular physical activity was shown to have a beneficial effect in extending longevity. Although there has been some concern that type 2 diabetes patients are at high risk for heart attack during exercise because of their multiple risk factors, this study established that “activity is not detrimental with regard to mortality, and may in fact provide a beneficial effect in terms of longevity,” according to Dr. Claudia Moy, who was the lead investigator.