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Insulin resistance syndrome, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, can if left untreated develop into full-blown type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have suggested that exercise can reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes itself, but can it affect insulin resistance syndrome?
As reported in the March 2003 issue of Diabetes Care, the answer would appear to be "yes." A group of 18 sedentary but otherwise healthy men and women were followed for 6 months. Each patient was placed on an individually tailored exercise regime of walking for 30 minutes between 3 and 7 days a week. All participants were told not to change their diet or alter their body weight during the study.
At the end of the study, beginning and ending insulin sensitivity levels were compared. The researchers concluded that, even without weight loss and with just modest amounts of exercise, "markers of glucose and fat metabolism in previously sedentary, middle-aged adults, a group particularly at risk for type 2 diabetes," were noticeably improved.