Can Exercise Cure Diabetes?
Following diagnosis, exercise is one of the first lifestyle modifications that is advised alongside dietary changes. While exercise alone cannot cure diabetes, engaging in frequent exercise can have helpful benefits for those diagnosed with diabetes and prevent complications.
Benefits of Exercise
Overall, regular exercise can prevent complications and progression of diabetes. Regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin resistance leading to improved glycemic control.1 For those with Type 1 Diabetes, exercise can optimize long-term protection against cardiovascular disease development.2
Additionally, regular exercise leads to benefits with improved body composition, increased strength, and aerobic capacity.1 These are key components to maintaining independence with increased age alongside daily movement and decreased sedentary time. 3Overall, regular exercise with a variety of types of movement leads to increased benefits that prevent complications associated with diabetes.
Complications of Lack of Exercise
Without exercising, there is an increased risk of the development of complications associated with type 2 diabetes. The most common complication is diabetic neuropathy, found in half of all individuals with diabetes.4 Neuropathy is nerve damage in your feet and hands as well as nerve systems that control your body. 4There is also an increased risk of loss of vision, lack of skin integrity, high blood pressure, and stroke. Additionally, there is an increased risk of nephropathy or kidney disease.4 To prevent or delay the progression of all these complications and damage, controlling your blood glucose levels are important.4 Exercise is a key lifestyle modification that alongside diet and medication is essential in maintaining target blood glucose and decreasing risk of complications.
Sampath Kumar, A., Maiya, A. G., Shastry, B. A., Vaishali, K., Ravishankar, N., Hazari, A., Gundmi, S., & Jadhav, R. (2019). Exercise and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 62(2), 98–103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rehab.2018.11.001
Galassetti, P., & Riddell, M. C. (2013). Exercise and type 1 diabetes (T1DM). Comprehensive Physiology, 1309–1336. https://doi.org/10.1002/cphy.c110040
Colberg, S. R. (2017). Key points from the updated guidelines on exercise and diabetes. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2017.00033
Complications. Diabetes Complications | ADA. (n.d.). Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications.