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People with pre-diabetes benefit greatly from exercise

Nov 27th, 2013
Staff writer

Exercise can reverse pre-diabetes.|| photo credit: national institutes of healthAnyone who has been told they are pre-diabetic should think hard about adopting an exercise program. A new study shows that people in this early stage of diabetes can reverse the course of the disease with moderate workouts.

The study, presented at a meeting of the American Assn. of Clinical Endocrinologists in Philadelphia, addresses a condition that affects almost one in every four Americans. Pre-diabetes is when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and may have some problems from diabetes already, according to the American Diabetes Assn.

Researchers looked at people with the condition and measured their vascular reactivity, which is the ability of blood to flow normally in the body’s circulatory system and is linked to one’s risk of developing heart disease. The people who exercised at least 150 minutes a week had vascular reactivity at near normal levels, similar to someone who was not pre-diabetic.

However, the group of pre-diabetic patients who did not exercise had vascular reactivity levels as poor as people with full-blown diabetes.

The exercisers also had reductions in cholesterol levels and markers of inflammation, which also contribute to heart disease. The six-week-long study showed that the people who exercised at least 150 minutes a week did not lose weight. However, their vascular reactivity still improved.

“Knowing that exercise significantly improves vascular reactivity for pre-diabetic patients is substantial,” said Dr. Sabyasachi Sen, the lead author of the study and an endocrinologist at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass. “It appears that the pre-diabetic stage is a therapeutic window when aerobic exercise can make significant improvement in vascular reactivity and bring it back towards normalcy, before these patients progress to overt diabetes."