Its official: Exercise does help people with diabetes
A new study has revealed that moderate-intensity exercise reduces fat stored around the heart, in the liver and in the abdomen of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, even in the absence of any changes in diet.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into the cells, or when the cells resist the effects of insulin.
The disease can lead to a wide range of complications, including damage to the eyes and kidneys and hardening of the arteries.
Exercise is recommended for people with diabetes, but its effects on different fat deposits in the body are unclear, according to the study’s senior author, Hildo J. Lamb, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Radiology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
“Based on previous studies, we noticed that different fat deposits in the body show a differential response to dietary or medical intervention,” he said.
“Metabolic and other effects of exercise are hard to investigate, because usually an exercise program is accompanied by changes in lifestyle and diet,” the researcher said.
For the new study, Dr. Lamb and colleagues assessed the effects of exercise on organ-specific fat accumulation and cardiac function in type 2 diabetes patients, independent of any other lifestyle or dietary changes.
MRI results showed that, although cardiac function was not affected, the exercise program led to a significant decrease in fat volume in the abdomen, liver and around the heart, all of which have been previously shown to be associated with increased cardiovascular risk.
Dr. Lamb noted that the exercise-induced fat reductions in the liver are of particular importance to people with type 2 diabetes, many of whom are overweight or obese.
The study is published online in the journal Radiology.