Managing Diabetes with Exercise

Are you prediabetic or have type two diabetes?  Do you want to prevent or reverse type two diabetes? Have you been told you need to eat better and exercise but you don’t know what type of exercises is the best? Come check out what the research saying about what type of exercise you need to perform.

The blue circle symbol used to represent diabetes.The Blue Ring represents Diabetes: Image via Wikipedia

During a recent search of articles, for a completely different subject, I stumbled upon this research paper, Effects of intensity and volume on insulin sensitivity during acute bouts of resistance training.  It caught my interest so I decided to tell you about it.

What is type two diabetes?

Type two diabetes, also called non-insulin dependent diabetes, is a result of insulin resistance.  Insulin has an important role in bringing the sugar that is in your blood stream into the cells of our body that need it. People with type II diabetes are able to produce insulin but it either too little, or the cells do not respond to the amount that is in the blood stream.

Whats wrong with having diabetes?

Diabetes has several negative affects on the body such as diabetic retinopathy (eyes), diabetic nephropathy (kidney), diabetic neuropathy (nerves), cardiovascular disease, and slow healing of cuts and injuries.

What exercise is recommended?

When I first started as an athletic therapist, back 2000,  the “Gold Standard” for exercise was high intensity aerobic endurance exercise (running and cycling).  The problem with this method of exercise is that people with diabetes/prediabetes may be restricted from weight bearing activities due to poor cardiovascular fitness or musculoskeletal pain/injury.

High intensity resistance training protocol

The research paper, above, that caught my eye found that with high intensity resistance exercises along with performing multiple sets that there was improvement in fasting insulin, insulin sensitivity and fasting blood glucose levels. High intensity resistance training improved insulin sensitivity regardless of volume.  With an increase in volume came a decrease in fasting blood glucose.

These are the exercises, sets and reps that were performed in this study that showed the overall best results:

Multi-joint exercises: squats, horizontal leg press, lunges, step ups, bench press, lat pull-downs, shoulder press, and upright rows.  Free weights were used over machines
Weight: 85% of your one repetition maximum
Repetitions: 6 to 8 repetitions
Sets: The best effects were with multiple sets (maximum 4)
Time Commitment: 30 to 55 minutes

High intensity interval training protocol

As I read the research paper on resistance training, I started to wonder if high intensity interval training had been researched.  I found this article, Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males. This research found that insulin sensitivity improved by 23% and insulin and blood glucose levels over the day (“under the curve”) improved even after 3 days.

Exercise: Cycling on a stationary bike with resistance.
Resistance: 7.5% of your body weight (This might be hard to figure out if you don’t have a research based stationary bike.
Sets: 4 to 6 sets
Time on bike: 30s all out effort
Rest time: 4 minutes of light cycling (no resistance) or resting on bike
Total time commitment: 17 to 26 minutes
Total exercise time: 2 to 3 minutes

Type II diabetes is often associated with musculoskeletal pain. Therefore, as a Chiropractor, I have to be aware that when I am treating someone for there, back, neck, shoulder, knee pain, etc. that we address managing the diabetes.  All three of these methods appear to have benefits and can be options for my chiropractic patients.

I am curious to have all three methods compared in a study to see which is the best method.

I hope this has been interesting and, if you are health conscious and wish to manage your blood sugars, then these three methods of exercise may help you (along with an appropriate diet).
Dr Notley

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