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Active Voice: Using the Latest Exercise Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes to Halt the Epidemic

from By Sheri R. Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Sheri R. Colberg, Ph.D., FACSM, is a professor in the Human Movement Sciences Department at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Her research has focused on the benefits of exercise training in type 2 diabetes. See the Dec. 2010 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® for the joint position statement, "Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes," for which Dr. Colberg chaired the writing group.

The U.S. is being overwhelmed by gloomy projections of a rapid rise in cases of diabetes mellitus. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that one of every three Americans will have diabetes by 2050. Moreover, more than half of Americans may develop diabetes or prediabetes – putting them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes – within the next ten years, according to a new report by health insurer UnitedHealth Group. UnitedHealth Group also projected that diabetes and prediabetes together will account for ten percent of total health care spending by 2020, with an annual cost of almost $500 billion and a total cost of $3.35 trillion over the next decade.

Can anything be done to prevent or reverse the impending diabetes tsunami that is threatening not only the U.S. but also the world? The latest evidence-based research on physical activity and type 2 diabetes – reported in a newly-released joint position statement by ACSM and the American Diabetes Association – unequivocally shows that regular exercise plays a major role in preventing and controlling insulin resistance, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes mellitus and costly diabetes-related health complications.

Admittedly, much of the information in this joint position statement is not entirely new; in fact, it reiterates that both aerobic and resistance training improve insulin action, at least acutely, and can improve blood glucose levels, lipids, blood pressure, cardiovascular risk, mortality and quality of life. What is newsworthy, however, is the recommendation that individuals with type 2 diabetes get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise spread out at least three days during the week, with no more than two consecutive days between bouts of aerobic activity. more


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