A study entitled “Resistance to the Beneficial Effects of Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes: Are Some Individuals Programmed to Fail?” reports that one in five people affected with type two diabetes do not see an improvement in their blood sugar levels when enrolled in a regular and supervised exercise program. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is characterized by a developed resistance to insulin (a peptide hormone produced by the pancreas) leading to higher than normal glucose levels in the blood, a condition known as hyperglycemia. Usually, exercise is prescribed as a benefit to improve patients’ hyperglycemia, but not all patients respond to it.
In this new research, the authors reviewed clinical studies of both people and animals with type two diabetes engaged in exercise regimens. They found that the response to exercise is variable, and around 20% of patients do not improve their glucose blood levels, insulin sensitivity, and muscle mitochondrial density (a measure to determine fat-burning levels). The animal reports with exercise and genetic studies highlight that this resistance to exercise improvement is encoded in the DNA and, thus, passive to transmission to other generations.
Lauren Marie Sparks, PhD, of Florida Hospital and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando, FL commented, “Since obesity and lack of physical activity are two key risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, physicians frequently recommend exercise and other lifestyle interventions to prevent or manage the disease. Most people benefit from an exercise regimen, but our research indicates that a significant minority of individuals with Type 2 diabetes do not experience the same improvements in metabolism due to their genes.”
More research is needed to determine which people with or at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes will respond to an exercise program and which will not, Sparks added. “Genetic and epigenetic patterns could hold the key to differentiating between the two groups. With that information in hand, we can target specific interventions and treatments to the individuals who will benefit most and identify novel treatment approaches to help those who do not respond to exercise.”