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Regular exercise is widely recognized as a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, and for good reason. Not only does it help with weight management and overall physical fitness, but regular exercise has also been shown to have significant benefits for metabolic health and blood sugar regulation. In this blog, we will explore the top 7 benefits of regular exercise from a scientific perspective, and discuss how they can help improve metabolic health and blood sugar regulation.
Benefit #1: Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels in the body. Insulin sensitivity refers to how effectively your body is able to respond to insulin and regulate blood sugar levels. Research has consistently shown that regular exercise can significantly improve insulin sensitivity, which in turn can help to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Diagnostic Research, researchers found that just one session of moderate-intensity exercise improved insulin sensitivity for up to 16 hours. Another study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that regular exercise improved insulin sensitivity by up to 50%. These findings suggest that regular exercise can have a significant impact on insulin sensitivity, which can lead to improved blood sugar control.
Benefit #2: Increased Glucose Uptake by Muscles
During exercise, your muscles use glucose (blood sugar) as a source of energy. Regular exercise has been shown to increase the ability of your muscles to take up and use glucose, which can help to not only power your workout but also improve blood sugar control.
A study published in the journal of Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism showed that exercise can increase glucose uptake by up to 52%. Another study published in the Journal of Physiology found that regular exercise significantly increased glucose uptake. These findings suggest that regular exercise can have a significant impact on glucose uptake by muscles, which can pull glucose out of circulation and lead to improved blood sugar control.
Benefit #3: Improved Metabolic Rate
Metabolic rate refers to the rate at which your body burns calories and converts food into energy. Regular exercise has been shown to increase metabolic rate, which can help with weight management and improve overall metabolic health. In addition, a higher metabolic rate can help to improve blood sugar control by allowing the body to use glucose more efficiently.
In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that regular exercise increased metabolic rate by up to 10%. The great news is that it does not take an exorbitant amount of exercise to achieve this enhanced metabolic rate, and the benefits persist for hours after your workout has concluded. A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that just 45 minutes of vigorous exercise increased resting metabolic rate for up to 14 hours. These findings suggest that regular exercise can have a significant impact on metabolic rate, which can lead to improved weight management and blood sugar control.
Benefit #4: Improved Lipid Profile
Regular exercise has been found to improve lipid profiles, which can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other metabolic disorders. Researchers found that aerobic exercise increased HDL (good) cholesterol and decreased triglycerides in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Other studies have shown similar results in individuals with type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Benefit #5: Reduced Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural immune response in the body, but chronic inflammation has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including metabolic disorders. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce chronic inflammation in the body, which can help to improve metabolic health. Research has consistently shown that physical activity may aid in the reduction of chronic inflammation. Another study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that regular exercise reduced inflammation in adipose tissue, which is associated with insulin resistance. These findings suggest that regular exercise can have a significant impact on reducing inflammation in the body.
Benefit #6: Improved Cardiovascular Health
Regular exercise has been found to improve cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart and blood vessels, reducing blood pressure, and improving circulation. In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found that regular exercise reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20-30%. Other studies have shown that regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health in individuals with type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Benefit #7: Improved Longevity
Strength training has been found to have numerous health benefits, including an association with increased longevity. Researchers have repeatedly found that muscular strength was inversely associated with mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. These longevity and health benefits can be achieved with relatively little time in the gym. Just 30 to 60 minutes of strength training per weeks has been shown to decrease the risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer by 10 to 20 percent. These findings suggest that strength training can have a significant impact on longevity and overall health, highlighting the importance of incorporating strength training into one's exercise routine. These health improvements can be earned in the comfort of your own home. An early morning dumbbell routine, or a quick strength circuit while watching tv at night can significantly impact your health.
Regular exercise has significant benefits for metabolic health and blood sugar regulation. From improved insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake by muscles to increased metabolic rate and reduced inflammation, regular exercise can help to improve overall metabolic health. By incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine, you can reap the many benefits of exercise for your metabolic health and blood sugar regulation. So grab a friend, a dumbbell, or a bike and your metabolic health will thank you for it.
Author: Dr. Colleen Gulick