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Why Exercise Doesn't Help Some Type 2 Diabetics

By    |   Wednesday, 31 Dec 2014 03:49 PM

The common consensus of the medical community is that exercise helps to lower blood glucose in diabetics, which also helps with obesity. For many with the metabolic disease, physical activity does have this beneficial effect. However, for some people with Type 2 diabetes, exercise does not help in the management of their disease although it may play a role in their overall health and well-being.

Everyday Health reports, "For people with diabetes, inactivity may be as detrimental to overall health as poor blood sugar control, which can lead to serious diabetes complications." However, recent studies indicate that the key factor that determines whether exercise lowers the blood glucose level in diabetics appears to have a genetic component.

A study published in the November 2014 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism asked, "Resistance to the Beneficial Effects of Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes: Are Some Individuals Programmed to Fail?" Researchers Dr. Natalie A. Stephens and Dr. Lauren M. Sparks examined why a certain percentage of the diabetic population does not show a positive disease response to exercise.

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Based on previous and current studies, Stephens and Sparks state, "We and others have found that approximately 15 to 20 percent of individuals fail to improve their glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity, and muscle mitochondrial density after supervised exercise training interventions."

In their clinical review, Stephen and Sparks document studies that have examined the relationship between exercise and genetics. They indicate that some studies show that "training response" is largely heritable. "…recent findings from the HERITAGE family study have also revealed genetic factors associated with the metabolic response to exercise training whereby individuals within a family respond more similarly than those between families."

“Most people benefit from an exercise regimen, but our research indicates that a significant minority of individuals with Type 2 diabetes do not experience the same improvements in metabolism due to their genes,” said Dr. Sparks in an Endocrine Society press release.

For people with Type 2 diabetes who have had little to no success in managing their disease through physical activity, the new research data on the role of genetics and exercise may offer some comfort. As Stephen and Sparks said, "A lack of positive metabolic result does not necessarily reflect a lack of effort" when it comes to diabetes and exercise resistance phenomenon.

This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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The common consensus of the medical community is that exercise helps to lower blood glucose in diabetics, which also helps with obesity. For many with the metabolic disease, physical activity does have this beneficial effect. However, for some people with Type 2 diabetes, exercise does not help.
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