What if I told you there is a disease that afflicts nearly 25 million Americans and this disease leads to blindness, kidney and nerve disorders, and even limb amputation. What if I told you that nearly one-quarter of those who suffer from this disease don’t even realize they have it. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Now what if I told you this disease was nearly entirely treatable by diet and exercise, would you believe me? Sounds a little hard to believe, but is absolutely true for Diabetes.
First, I should clarify we’re talking about the behaviorally-induced Type II Diabetes that is characterized by the ineffectiveness of insulin (a storage hormone) on the cells of the body to store sugar properly. As opposed to Type I Diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, that destroys the cells that make insulin. Type II Diabetes is largely caused by poor eating and exercise habits, Type I Diabetes is something you’re born with.
Although there are a host of medicinal treatment options for Type II Diabetes, all healthcare professionals universally agree exercise is one of the most effective treatments for Type II Diabetes. How effective? Well, effective enough to nearly eliminate need for any medicinal treatment.
The mechanism by which this occurs is quite simple. With Type II Diabetes, insulin is rendered ineffective at the cellular level. Insulin is like the key that unlocks the doors to all the cells of body to store nutrients (like sugar). Essentially, with Type II Diabetes the key has been used so many times it gets worn out and doesn’t work anymore. This is where exercise steps in, as there’s another way to unlock the door to the cells of our body.
Exercise acts to “kick in” the door on the cells of our body forcing the sugar in, thereby reducing the need for insulin to unlock the door. This is referred to clinically as non-insulin dependent glucose uptake, and it is the very reason exercise is such an effective treatment for Type II Diabetes.
Research suggests that for prevention and treatment of Type II Diabetes, individuals should engage in approximately 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (spread out over 3-4 days, with no more than 48hrs between workouts). This exercise could be walking, bike riding, using an elliptical trainer, swimming, or any rhythmic continuous movement you enjoy. You should increase your heart rate and breathing rate significantly, as well as break a sweat. Further research suggests that the addition of resistance or circuit training 1-2 days per week (training all the major muscle groups of the body) can greatly augment the benefits of aerobic training, leading to even better management and prevention of Type II Diabetes.
This is a no-brainer folks; get out, get moving, and get rid of your Type II Diabetes.
Michael is an Exercise Physiologist & President of Applied Fitness Solutions, an Ann Arbor, MI-based fitness, weight management, & performance enhancement facility. Michael is a highly sought after and well respected educator and exercise scientist, who has lectured to, and worked with a diverse population with respect to all aspects of health, fitness, and human performance.