As someone living with diabetes, you probably have already heard that physical activity is an important part of your daily diabetes management. But did you know that inactivity – that is not being active – for as little as two days can make your body less sensitive to insulin?
In a recent study conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that the longer that lab rats remained inactive, the less sensitive their bodies were to insulin. The researchers determined that this condition may be sign that diabetes and other related diseases were just around the corner.
“The less efficient your insulin is, the greater risk you have of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and hypertension,” David Kump, a researcher at the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology at the University, said. “Insulin works by taking glucose, or blood sugar, out of the blood stream and into the muscle to be used for energy. Our research found that when the rats stopped running for two days, the amount of sugar taken into the muscle in response to insulin was reduced by about one-third.”
Usually, when attaches to a muscle cell, glucose will move from the blood into the muscle. In a person who has been active, this process is typically very efficient. But not so for someone who has not been active. In their case, less physical activity means the glucose can’t get into the muscle as easily.
“Everyone is looking at the benefits of exercise, but we are looking at the consequences of stopping that exercise,” Kump said. “People already know that exercise is good for them. This shows that within a very short time frame of inactivity, the body’s insulin does not work as well and might have negative effects.”