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The Benefits of Physical Activity for Type II Diabetes

Diabetes is the 5 th leading cause of death in the U.S. and diabetes increases the risk for a number of other diseases including heart and vessel diseases. If those figures are not alarming enough, it is estimated that diabetes costs $132 billion per year in the U.S. Type 2 diabetes, formally called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes, represents 90-95% of all cases of diabetes and has certainly proven to be affected by lifestyle factors such as obesity (particularly abdominal obesity) and physical activity. Not surprisingly, as the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. has increased by 65% from 1991 (12.0%) to 2000 (19.8%), diabetes prevalence has increased 49% from 1991 (4.9%) to 2000 (7.3%).

Physical activity can have an effect on the prevention or better management of type 2 diabetes by two mechanisms. It is well known that physical activity can have an impact on body composition. Any decrease in percent body fat will decrease the chances of developing type 2 diabetes and will help maintain blood glucose levels better for those who have type 2 diabetes. Another positive effect of physical activity is that increases insulin sensitivity independent of any effect on weight loss and fat distribution. This means that even if an individual does not impact their body composition with physical activity, there will still be a benefit in terms of the effect of the physical activity on type 2 diabetes. That effect is related to the fact that physical activity makes what insulin the type 2 diabetic has more effective - the insulin receptors are more sensitive and thus it takes less insulin to do the same job. The bottom line is that physical activity can have a powerful effect to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and also to better manage the disease once an individual is diagnosed.

*Please note that it may be prudent for you to check with your doctor before increasing your physical activity and contact the professionals at ProHealthNet to ask what they recommend for an exercise program to decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes of to better manage type 2 diabetes.

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