Type 2 diabetes has been linked to both genetics and lifestyle. Having an immediate relative with type 2 diabetes increases the risk of contracting diabetes by about three times. Preventive treatment involves eating healthier and exercising more.
While exercise is good for everyone, it is also a well known fact that some struggle more than others, suggested a recent study by researchers at Lund University. The researchers studied the effects of exercise in people with increased risk of type 2 diabetes caused by being immediately related to someone with the disease.
The study participants consisted of a total of 50 unfit, slightly overweight but completely healthy men in their 40s who, for seven months, exercised regularly at a fitness center. Half of the subjects belonged to the risk group and the other half served as a control group who did not have relatives with type 2 diabetes.
For the study, participants were offered three training sessions per week, including a spinning class and two aerobics classes, during which their exercise intensity and energy consumption was measured. Before and after the exercise period, the study participants individually underwent a medical examination and a glucose tolerance test (sugar load) to study the cells' ability to absorb sugar (glucose) into the blood. The team also performed muscle biopsies on the subjects that were analyzed to study the activity of various genes.
The exercise routine for both study groups was equally hard, but the risk group attended more sessions and as a group expended more energy than the control group. After making adjustments to account for the differences, the results suggested that both groups benefited from exercising; they all lost weight, reduced their waist size and increased their fitness levels. The genetic analyses also revealed similar improvements in the gene expressions in both groups.
Ola Hansson, who led the study, said, "The difference was that participants from the risk group had to exercise more to achieve the same results as the participants from the control group. However, more research is required to answer the question why this is the case, and in the future be able to advice on what type of exercise will be most effective in terms of disease prevention for this group."
The study is published in Journal of Applied Physiology.