During exercise, the oxygen consumption of the body increases in the working muscles. To meet its energy requirement, skeletal muscle uses its own stores of glycogen and triglycerides along with free fatty acids derived from the metabolism of triglycerides and glucose. Therefore, in patients with type 2 diabetes, physical activity may improve insulin sensitivity and help to normalize the elevated blood glucose levels.
Thomas et al. had proven that exercise significantly improves glycemic control and reduces visceral adipose tissue and plasma triglycerides in patients with type 2 diabetes, even without any weight loss.2 A more recent study has shown that aerobic fitness is associated with improved health-related quality of life (associated with decreased diabetes-related complications) in patients with type 2 diabetes.3 Further, exercise along with diet modification has also been shown to be beneficial in preventing or delaying the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in high-risk groups (patients with impaired glucose tolerance or metabolic syndrome).4
1. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes mellitus and exercise. Diabetes Care. 2002; 25: S64.
2. Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, Naughton GA. Exercise for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006; 3: CD002968.
3. Bennett WL, Ouyang P, Wu AW, et al. Fatness and fitness: How do they influence health-related quality of life in type 2 diabetes mellitus? Health Qual Life Outcomes. 2008; 6(1): 110.
4. Orozco LJ, Buchleitner AM, Gimenez-Perez G, et al. Exercise or exercise and diet for preventing type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008; 3: CD003054.