Study links inactivity with risk factors for Type 2 diabetes

August 23, 2011

79 million American adults have prediabetes and will likely develop diabetes later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the number of people diagnosed with diabetes continues to grow, researchers are focusing on discovering why the prevalence of the disease is increasing. John Thyfault, an assistant professor in MU's departments of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and Internal Medicine, has found that ceasing regular physical activity impairs glycemic control (control of blood sugar levels), suggesting that inactivity may play a key role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

"We now have evidence that physical activity is an important part of the daily maintenance of ," Thyfault said. "Even in the short term, reducing daily activity and ceasing regular exercise causes acute changes in the body associated with diabetes that can occur before weight gain and the development of obesity."

Thyfault studied the relationship between low levels of physical activity and elevated levels of postprandial glucose (PPG), or the spikes in blood sugar that occur after a meal. PPG is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes and has been associated with increased incidences of cardiovascular disease and death. Thyfault found that when healthy individuals reduced their physical activity by about half for three days, their PPG responses to meals doubled.

"A single bout of moderate exercise can improve the way the body maintains (blood ) and reduce PPG, but becoming inactive for a short period of time quickly disrupts glucose homeostasis," Thyfault said. "This study shows that physical activity directly impacts health issues that are preventable."

In the study, Thyfault monitored the activity levels and diets of healthy and moderately active young adults. Participants then reduced their physical activity by 50 percent for three days while replicating the diet they consumed when they were active. Continuous glucose monitors worn by the subjects during the period of inactivity revealed significantly increased levels of PPG. Spikes in blood glucose after meals can indicate increased risks for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"It is recommended that people take about 10,000 steps each day," Thyfault said. "Recent evidence shows that most Americans are only taking about half of that, or 5,000 steps a day. This chronic inactivity leads to impaired glucose control and increases the risk of developing diabetes."

Explore further: Exercise pivotal in preventing and fighting type II diabetes

More information: The study, "Lowering Physical Activity Impairs Glycemic Control in Healthy Volunteers," will be published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Related Stories

Exercise pivotal in preventing and fighting type II diabetes

February 7, 2007

One in three American children born in 2000 will develop type II diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A new study at the University of Missouri-Columbia says that acute exercise ...

Light activity can help avoid chronic disease

June 12, 2007

Reducing time spent sitting and increasing light physical activity has important health benefits that may reduce the risk of diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.

Recommended for you

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.