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Johns Hopkins Health - Want to Reduce the Effects of Diabetes? Get Moving

Winter 2013
Issue No. 19

Want to Reduce the Effects of Diabetes? Get Moving

Date: January 17, 2013

diabetes

A new Johns Hopkins study shows that regular aerobic exercise provides great fuel (and efficiency) for the pumping heart. This is encouraging news for people who have type 2 diabetes, who also frequently have a high risk of heart disease.

“Diabetic people have elevated glucose and fat in the blood,” explains lead researcher Miguel Aon, Ph.D. “They can have twice as much as a healthy person.” Each of these factors contributes to heart disease.

Exercise breaks up stored fatty acids, giving the diabetic heart the extra fuel it needs to function normally. “To our surprise, the heart improved performance in the presence of hyperglycemia [high blood sugar] when there was a high energy demand,” Aon says. “If a person is exercising, the heart needs more energy, and energy is provided by fat.”

In the study, researchers gave double the normal fatty acids to type 2 diabetic mice and then used an adrenaline-like substance to stimulate their hearts to beat faster, mimicking stress or physical activity. They found the diabetic mice’s hearts improved their function to the same level as normal mice and also counteracted the negative effects of too much glucose.

This doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want if you have diabetes, but it does mean regular biking, swimming, running or walking will improve your cardiovascular function and reduce your risk of heart failure.

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