Lack of exercise and obesity are high risk factors for people with type 2 diabetes. In order to help patients manage the disease, doctors recommend that they watch what they eat and do some form of physical activity every day. However, a new scientific review by Lauren M. Sparks and her colleague Natalie A. Stephens reveals some very surprising information.
Sparks, Ph.D. of the Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes at Florida Hospital and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando, believes that genetics may play a bigger role in what helps patients manage their type 2 diabetes. According to the research published by Sparks and Stephens in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, one in five patients do not benefit from physical activity.
“But at this stage, we do not know who will and who will not respond to an exercise program,” said Sparks who believes that more research needs to be done in order to find out why some patients benefit from exercise and some do not. She added, “We can then ultimately develop novel strategies, while still using exercise, to help them in their quest to either prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes or to get their diabetes under control.”
The research monitored 45 adults in their mid-50s with type 2 diabetes. All the participants exercised for nine months, some used treadmills three or four days a week. However, about 20 percent saw no changes in key measurements like HbA1c (a measure of blood glucose concentration over long periods of time), fat burning ability, Body Mass Index (BMI), and body fat.
“We now know that about 15 to 20 percent of individuals do not respond to supervised exercise interventions – at least in terms of glucose control and muscle metabolism,” Sparks said. “And for many, it’s not from a lack of trying. They are making an effort.”
Sparks believes that doctors should continue to tell their patients to exercise. There are clearly positive health benefits that come from regular physical activity. She hopes that her study sparks more research into determining why so many patients do not respond to exercise.