September 7


Exercise Improves the Health of Those with Diabetes Even without Other Lifestyle Changes

By Gabriela

September 7, 2021

Around 26 million people in the US have diabetes, and nearly 80 million have prediabetes. This means 80 million new people will likely develop the condition if they don’t do something to prevent it.

Researchers show that lifestyle changes can significantly prevent type 2 diabetes, one of these changes being exercise.

They also claim that exercise can not only help prevent diabetes but also improve the health of those who already have the disease.

Exercise Improves the Health of Those with Diabetes Even Without Other Lifestyle Changes

A 6-month study analyzed how moderate-intensity exercise affects those with diabetes. The results showed they all had a reduction in fat in the liver, abdomen, and heart.

This, in turn, reduces the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death among those with type 2 diabetes. In fact, Healthline to die from stroke or some form of heart disease.

What’s even more impressive is that the participants in the study didn’t have to exercise a lot to obtain these benefits. They exercised between 3.5 and 6 hours weekly, which is a reasonable amount of exercise for most people.

What’s more, they gained these benefits only from exercise as they didn’t make any other dietary or lifestyle changes. This shows how powerful staying physically active is when it comes to our health.

Why is Exercise Crucial for Diabetes Treatment?

One of the best things about exercise is the quick results, providing almost instant benefits. Of course, there are long-term benefits as well, but the quicker ones will motivate people more.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise published research that shows that a single session of moderate exercise improves our body’s glucose control and lowers the increase in blood glucose after eating.

Intensity is the key when it comes to exercise and treatment and prevention of diabetes. So, a slow walk in the near park is not going to help us, unless we’re morbidly obese.

To achieve the best results, we should do high-intensity interval training which involves short bursts of intense activity and a longer time of recovery, repeated several times.

We should do this high-intensity interval training for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a week.

It will help us improve our insulin sensitivity, especially if we follow a low sugar/low grain, low processed diet.

The Importance of Diet and Exercise Changes for Those with Diabetes

Even though exercise should be a crucial part of our diabetes treatment, we should also pay attention to the food we eat.

That’s because insulin and leptin resistance is the root of the problem called type 2 diabetes, caused by impaired insulin and leptin signaling.

In fact, type 2 diabetes is an entirely preventable and manageable disease if we take the proper measures to take care of our bodies.

One research involved overweight or obese people with the condition who had to reduce their calorie intake to 1,200 – 1,800 calories daily and exercise for 3 hours a week as part of an intense program of exercise and diet.

What happened after one year is incredible. 11.5% of the participants didn’t need medication to control their blood glucose levels, or in other words, they no longer had diabetes.

This only confirms that diabetes is not a disease of blood sugar, but one arising from faulty leptin signaling and insulin resistance. And, both of these factors are closely related to exercise and diet.

Now that we know this, we’ll understand that the only way to reverse diabetes is to recover the normal leptin and insulin sensitivity in our bodies.

And, we’ll succeed in achieving that only through proper exercise and diet.  No drug can fix insulin resistance and leptin signaling.

The Link Between Leptin and Insulin

Leptin is the hormone responsible for our body weight and appetite. It’s produced in the fat cells, and informs our brain when what, and how much to eat. This means that it also tells us when to stop eating.

In addition, this hormone tells our brain how to use the energy it has. So, it has a huge part in the accuracy of insulin signaling and our risk of insulin resistance.

On the other hand, insulin is responsible for storing the extra energy as glycogen or as fat – back up energy supply. So, its job is to store the extra energy for future needs, and not to reduce our blood glucose.

The reduction of blood glucose due to insulin is practically a “side effect” of this process.

That’s how these two hormones are connected. They make a health-promoting or health-damaging cycle in the body depending on the food we eat. Consuming plenty of grains and sugar will raise our blood sugar and insulin, causing increased fat storage.

This means more leptin is produced by the extra fat. When our leptin levels become chronically increased, we develop leptin resistance.

This means that our body is no longer able to hear the signals sent from the hormone indicating that we’re full and should stop eating. By increasing fat storage, our body weight also increases, leading to insulin resistance.

What happens now is our body is completely deaf to the leptin and insulin signals, causing the development of diabetes and many other diseases.

3 Things to Remember

To successfully treat our type 2 diabetes, we need to achieve the following three things:

  1. Recover the leptin/insulin sensitivity,
  2. Normalize our body weight,
  3. Stabilize our blood pressure.

How to Achieve All That

In order to achieve all this, we should do the following things:

  • Limit or cut grains and sugar out of our diet;
  • Avoid excess protein intake;
  • Exercise regularly;
  • Avoid trans fats;
  • Increase our intake of omega-3s from animal-based sources, but choose only high-quality;
  • Increase our vitamin D levels;
  • Improve our gut flora;
  • Learn how to manage stress;
  • Get enough sleep every night.

We hope this article will motivate people to exercise more often, regardless if they have diabetes or not.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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