Vigorous exercise reduces the risk of diabetes among overweight, sedentary men, study findings suggest. And if these men reduce the amount of calories they consume each day, their diabetes risk drops even further.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia asked 60 nonsmoking, sedentary, overweight 20-to-50-year-old men to either maintain their usual diet or restrict their calorie intake for 16 weeks. The men, all non-diabetics, were also randomly assigned to participate in a vigorous exercise group or light exercise group, for comparison.
Overall, the researchers found that vigorous exercise (intense half-hour-long sessions three times per week) alone lowered glucose levels by 13% and insulin levels by 20% in response to an oral-glucose-tolerance test. For this glucose test the researchers measured how much insulin was needed to keep glucose concentrations within a certain desirable range two hours after the men consumed a sugary drink.
Fasting glucose levels were also lower among the vigorous exercisers in comparison to their light-exercising peers.
The researchers said the main point of the study is that exercise was able to reduce blood glucose and insulin levels in men with normal levels of these indicators.
The vigorous exercisers did not have any great weight loss, however.
Calorie restriction was also effective. Men who restricted their calorie intake not only lost a significant amount of weight and had a nearly six percent reduction in body fat, but their insulin concentrations were also reduced by 40% on the glucose tolerance test.
Further, when calorie restriction was combined with vigorous exercise, the two worked together to lower insulin levels after the glucose test, the report indicates.
They advise that sedentary individuals slowly build up their exercise level from light to moderately intense. Those who are overweight should start with swimming, cycling, or some other non-weight bearing exercise to minimize their risk of joint problems.
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