Health Watch -- Exercising Away Diabetes

Health Watch is a Public Service of the   Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

A half hour a day could help keep diabetes away.

Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in the United States, affecting more adults and even children. But before diabetes develops, people generally go through a phase called insulin resistance syndrome. This syndrome is a precursor to diabetes in which people start losing their ability to use insulin to properly regulate blood sugar. If action isn't taken to treat insulin resistance syndrome, diabetes will develop.

Researchers at the University of Florida found that just adding exercise to your lifestyle may help prevent insulin resistance syndrome from developing - and that, in turn, prevents diabetes from developing. The researchers had a group of sedentary but otherwise healthy adults follow an individually tailored exercise program that called for moderate walking for about 30 minutes a day, three to seven days a week. Participants were told not to alter their diets or try to lose weight. People who exercised increased their sensitivity to insulin, meaning their bodies were using insulin efficiently. That happened even if people didn't lose weight. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say that insulin resistance is just one of a cluster of problems that are part of what is called metabolic syndrome, which raises risks for heart disease and diabetes. This syndrome can be treated with lifestyle changes, including exercise. By adding exercise to your lifestyle, you lower your risk for a number of health problems.