Can Family History Change the Impact of Exercise on Type 2 Diabetes?
Those with a hereditary risk to type 2 diabetes (FH+) need to exercise more than individuals without the first-degree link (FH-) in order to achieve the same health benefits, according to a recent study.
Prior research has linked type 2 diabetes to lifestyle (eg, eating habits and exercise) and genetics. The risk of developing diabetes is 3 times higher if the individual has an immediate relative (eg, mother, father, or sibling) who has type 2 diabetes.1
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Researchers wanted to determine the effects of exercise on individuals with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes due to familial relationships.2
In the study, the researchers at Lund University in Malmö, Sweden conducted a 7-month exercise where 50 unfit, but healthy men in their early to mid 40s exercised for an average 39 training sessions.2
Of the participants, 50% accounted for those at risk for type 2 diabetes and the other half consisted of controls.1
Investigators measured glucose tolerance and exercise capacity, and performed muscle biopsies of all the participants before and after the exercise intervention.1,2
“Given that the FH+ group expended 61% more energy during the intervention, we used regression analysis to analyze the response in the FH+ and FH- groups separately,” said the study’s authors.2
Furthermore, that amount of exercise significantly impacted the weight, waist circumference, and oxygen intake of the FH-group, but did not yield the same effect in the FH+ group.1,2
More research is needed to determine why more participants from the FH+ group expended more energy and attended more sessions than those in the control group, and what exercise types will be most helpful in type 2 diabetes prevention moving forward.1,2
“Nevertheless, it is interesting to see that there is a difference despite the fact that all of them are actually healthy and otherwise very similar. We now hope to continue with further studies, including examining whether exercise intensity rather than volume is a crucial factor in determining how the risk group responds to exercise,”1 said Ola Hansson, PhD, lead author of the study and researcher at Lund University.
The complete study is published in the September issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology.
-Michelle Canales Butcher
1. Lund University. Exercise is good for everyone—but some struggle more than others. October 2, 2015. www.ludc.med.lu.se/news-archive/exercise-is-good-for-everyone-but-some-struggle-more-than-others/. Accessed October 7, 2015.
2. Ekman C, Elgzyri T, Strom K, et al. Less pronounced response to exercise in healthy relatives to type 2 diabetics compared to controls. J Appl Physiol. 2015 October [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01067.2014.