All it takes is 14 days: Two weeks’ worth of exercise significantly improves beta cell function and reduces pancreatic fat in adults with Type 2 diabetes

The importance of exercise, especially for people suffering from chronic conditions, should never be downplayed. A study in the journal Diabetologia adds more evidence to that fact, suggesting that people with Type 2 diabetes only need two weeks of exercise to enhance their beta cell function and diminish pancreatic fat.

For the study, researchers from Finland evaluated 54 adults with either prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, aged between 40 and 55 years. Then, they randomly assigned the study participants to either two weeks of sprinting or continuous medium-intensity training. They aimed to determine the effect of these exercises on pancreatic fat, beta cell function, and insulin sensitivity.

Prior to the study, the study participants with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes had greater amounts of pancreatic fat and impaired beta cell function compared to healthy individuals.

Results of the study revealed that sprinting and medium-intensity training led to a decrease in pancreatic fat both in healthy men and those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Moreover, both exercise types also exhibited similar improvement in beta cell function.

An accumulation of ectopic fat in the internal organs, such as the pancreas, is a key factor in obesity and the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The good thing is that exercise training can effectively reduce this fat accumulation, which in turn, lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

“This study shows for the first time that exercise training decreases pancreatic fat content regardless of baseline glucose tolerance,” said the researchers.

In conclusion, the findings of the study suggest that even exercising for at least 14 days can dramatically reduce ectopic fat in the pancreas, thus reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Long-term benefits of exercise for diabetics

In addition to a healthy diet and medications, a treatment plan for diabetes includes exercise. Staying fit and active throughout life can help a diabetic patient control his illness and regulate blood sugar level. People with diabetes have too much sugar in their blood, either because there is not enough insulin to process it or because their body does not use insulin properly. When diabetic people exercise, their muscles can use glucose without insulin. In turn, this reduces their blood sugar level. For diabetes patients who are insulin resistant, exercise makes insulin more effective. (Related: How Regular Exercise can Help with Diabetes.)

Having control of your blood sugar level is important for the prevention of long-term complications, such as nerve pain, kidney disease, and heart problems. People with diabetes are more likely to develop blocked arteries or arteriosclerosis, which can result in a heart attack. With exercise, this can be prevented because exercise helps keep the heart healthy and strong. In addition, exercise helps maintain good cholesterol, which also helps prevent arteriosclerosis.

Exercises for diabetics

A balance of aerobic, strength training and flexibility exercises should be aimed when exercising. Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, running, tennis, basketball, swimming, and biking. Choose an exercise that you actually enjoy doing to keep you motivated. Take group classes at a gym, or get a friend to walk or run with. After you have included aerobic exercises into your routine, start including strength training. This type of exercise can make the muscles lean and efficient. It can also help keep the bones strong and healthy. It is more beneficial to diabetics because muscles use the most glucose. Engaging in flexibility training can help boost the function of muscles and joints. It is also essential to do stretching before and after exercise to lessen muscle soreness and actually relax the muscles.

Exercise also lowers blood pressure, helps manage weight, increases the level of good cholesterol, makes muscles leaner and stronger, strengthens bones, provides more energy, boosts mood, enhance sleep, and helps manage stress.

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