Exercise can help slow the premature ageing of the cardiovascular system that occurs in people with type 2 diabetes, according to researchers in the US.
Amy Huebschmann and colleagues from the University of Colorado School of Medicine claim that exercise can actually help bring ageing of type 2 diabetes patients closer to that of healthy, non-diabetic individuals.
While it’s inevitable that a person’s fitness gradually decreases as they get older, such that fitness levels among healthy adults drop by about 10 per cent every 10 years after the age of 40-50, the researchers say that fitness levels are 20 per cent lower in type 2 diabetes patients than in healthy individuals at every stage of life.
This reduction in physical activity among type 2 diabetics, which includes simple daily activities such as going for walks, puts them at greater risk of early disability and death, according to Heubschmann.
The positive news is that Huebschmann and her colleagues, as well as other researchers, have shown in various studies that regular exercise can reduce the risk of early cardiovascular ageing.
Results suggest that 12 to 20 weeks of normal exercise can boost fitness levels among type 2 diabetes patients by up to 40 per cent, although not to the standards of non-diabetics.
“In other words, these defects are not necessarily permanent. They can be improved, which is great news,” Huebschmann explained.
The authors concluded: “Type 2 diabetes has a significant negative impact on health, but that impact can be improved with as simple an intervention as regular brisk walking or other physical activity that most people with diabetes can do.”
Huebschmann and her team are now looking to identify methods of motivating type 2 diabetics to exercise and meet their fitness targets.

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