Exercise and Blood Sugar ImpactI was just reading the results of a new 6-month study showing the impact of exercise on blood-glucose levels, and in particular how the combination of weightlifting (i.e., resistance training) and aerobic exercise yield a rather impressive reduction in Glycosolated Hemoglobin (aka HbA1c) readings. Given recent news of near-epidemic proportions of Americans that have, or will develop, type 2 diabetes (non insulin-dependent diabetes) in their lifetimes (nearly one in three persons!), it sure seems like there needs to be an overall wakeup call issued to stress the importance of exercise and how it can prevent this insidious condition.
For those of you new to HbA1c plasma-glucose-concentration test readings, they are represented as a percentage — and in healthy persons with normal blood-sugar, the reading will be roughly between 4% and 5.9%, and readings above 6.5% (or 7% depending on source) are considered indicative of Type 2 diabetes. And, "controls" in a study are like placebos — in this study they represent sedentary individuals.
With that in mind, here are some of the details (quite impressive for just 6-months of exercise) which include:
- A 0.51 percentage point HbA1c reduction in the aerobic exercise group versus controls
- A 0.38 percentage point HbA1c reduction in the resistance training [with weights] group compared with controls
- An additional 0.46 percentage point HbA1c reduction in the combined exercise group compared with aerobic training alone
- An additional 0.59 percentage point HbA1c reduction in the combined exercise group compared with resistance training alone
- I.e., patients who did both aerobic and resistance regimens more than doubled the benefit with a drop in HbA1c of 0.9 percentage points!
Start Exercising Now and Reduce your Blood Sugar LevelsIt's time to make exercise a part of your life if it isn't already. If you are living on a gluten-free diet already, you have demonstrated your ability to adhere to a lifestyle change that takes work and perseverance. You obviously have the resolve to take up and maintain a healthy exercise program — in fact, this should be rather easy compared to completely removing gluten from your diet! This study achieved its results through 45-minute/day exercise, with aerobic activity performed 3 times per week and weights/resistance-training another 3 days (for the combined maximum benefit to reduced blood sugar levels). It sounds like a lot, but it sure sounds better than a future filled with the risks and complications associated with high blood sugar (including heart disease, hypertension, vision loss, kidney damage, depression, and much more).
This study on exercise and blood-sugar control is particular to persons with Type 2 diabetes. When talking about Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent), the exercise portion of the equation gets more difficult, as it can cause substantial swings in blood sugar that can be difficult to manage. Although Type 2 diabetes is no more prevalent among persons with Celiac Disease than the normal population, Type 1 diabetes risk is strongly correlated with Coeliac / Celiac Disease (aka Gluten Allergy, Gluten enteropathy, gluten-intolerance, etc) among adolescents — the risk is extremely high in fact, and another study [which was on Medscape at the time of this writing but whose link was no longer valid] concluded that: Celiac Disease Triples the risk of Type 1 diabetes in children.
This new exercise study is fantastic information, and further validates how important an exercise regimen is to controlling blood-sugar and avoiding Type II diabetes (not to mention the other health benefits). And, whether you have Type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or have normal blood sugar readings, everyone should consider some sort of exercise to make sure they don't allow their blood sugar to increase further over time. I do as I say, and I regularly exercise in an attempt to ensure optimal long-term health — now with even more scientific reinforcement of my actions. I'm hoping others can benefit from this as well.
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