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Regular physical activity improves the way the body uses sugar (glucose), and can help delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes. So what happens when people who are risk for the disease suddenly become inactive?

In a study funded by Diabetes Canada, 22 participants were asked to reduce their daily steps to no more than 1,000 steps per day for two weeks. That is about the same as being housebound due to illness.

The participants, who had prediabetes, were 65 to 73 years of age and were living with overweight.

Researchers found that participants had higher blood sugar levels during this brief period of inactivity, and even when they were active again, their blood sugar did not fully return to the levels seen before the study.

These results suggest that people at risk for type 2 diabetes because of age, weight, or prediabetes could be at even higher risk if there are times when they are not active—for example, due to illness, hospitalization, or bed rest. To help them recover their blood sugar control, “strategies such as active rehabilitation, dietary changes, and perhaps medication might be useful,” says Chris McGlory, a Diabetes Canada post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and lead author of the study, which was published in The Journals of Gerontology (August 2018).

Did you know?

The cause of diabetes depends on your genes, family history, ethnic background, and other factors, such as the environment and your health. Diabetes Canada offers information to end myths and misinformation. Read more in “Causes” of Diabetes.

(This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Winter 2020)

Author: Elizabeth McCammon

Category Tags: Research;

Region: National

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