Regular Aerobic Exercise Improves Vascular Reactivity for Patients at Risk of Developing Diabetes

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Pre-diabetic patients who engage in regular aerobic exercise improve their vascular reactivity to nearly normal levels, even if no weight loss is achieved, according to research presented today at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 21st Annual Meeting & Clinical Congress in Philadelphia. Pre-diabetes is a condition that affects nearly one in every four Americans.

“Knowing that exercise significantly improves vascular reactivity for pre-diabetic patients is substantial,” said Dr. Sabyasachi Sen, MD, MRCP, FACP, lead author on the study. “It appears that the pre-diabetic stage is a therapeutic window when aerobic exercise can make significant improvement in vascular reactivity and bring it back towards normalcy, before these patients progress to overt diabetes. It may be too late in the overt diabetes stage to make significant impact in vascular reactivity with exercise alone.”The research included patients at-risk of developing diabetes and studied their vascular reactivity, which is associated with heart disease, in relation to exercise. Those persons who exercised at least 150 minutes per week had vascular reactivity near normal levels of a non-diabetic person, in addition to experiencing significant reductions in cholesterol profiles and markers of inflammation, which have been associated with heart attacks. Interestingly, the patients undertaking exercise did not lose weight during the six-week intervention period, indicating the improvement in vascular reactivity was independent of weight loss.

On the other hand, the study found the group of pre-diabetic patients who did not exercise at all (exercise naïve) had vascular reactivity levels as poor as overt diabetes patients.

“Pre-diabetic state is associated with poor vascular reactivity,” concluded the study authors, “but it also may be the period when intervention such as regular aerobic exercise improves it almost close to that of a non-diabetic patient, in spite of no statistically significant weight loss.”

To read additional press releases about the AACE 21st Annual Meeting & Clinical Congress in Philadelphia, please visit media.aace.com or follow the Twitter hashtag #AACE2012.

For a brief bio and photo of Dr. Sen, please click here.