How Does Exercise Combat Insulin Resistance?

By: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
Salesian Cooperator

Of the many readings I have on the subject of how exercise combat insulin resistance, I found Ms. Marie Feldman and Jodi Dalyai’s explanation very easy to understand. Let us present to you their beautiful write up on the topic:

The positive influences on three major parts of your body:

  1. Muscles. With increased activity, muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, allowing for better storage and usage of glucose for energy. Exercise improves the activation of GLUT4, an important glucose transport molecule, and more effective insulin receptors. Another effect is the reduction in fatty acid storage in muscles.
  2. Improvement in beta cell function. Much of the improvement is dose dependent, meaning with more intense, and longer, bouts of exercise, greater achievement in the beta cell function is observed.
  3. After exercise, the liver is better at storing extra glucose from food, as glycogen, reducing glucose levels in the blood. Cells in the liver become more sensitive to insulin release, thus preventing the liver from providing excess glucose that the body doesn’t need.

While more exercise seems to show greater improvements across all areas related to insulin resistance, studies consistently show that 30 minutes, 3 or more days per week, of “moderate” activity, such as walking, improves blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Even research in children shows that when kids achieve greater physical activity levels in school, they have better insulin sensitivity. Playing more, walking, dancing, jumping, and using your muscles to move in all different ways helps the whole body!

Exercise does much more than just improving insulin sensitivity and promoting blood sugar control; regular activity aids in weight loss, maintains bone health, lowers stress, increases balance and flexibility and helps with sleep.  Exercise reduces mortality, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, certain cancer. Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Now that you understand at a cellular level of how exercise impacts on the three major organs in your body to combat insulin resistance, and the benefits on your over-all health,  isn’t time to make a resolution to schedule for an exercise that fits into your schedule?

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: tell a friend of your exercise plan.

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