8 weeks of exercise restores healthy insulin activity in the brain.
Research shows that 8 weeks of exercise restores healthy insulin activity in the brain, which has implications for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes. By implication, restored insulin sensitivity is also connected to improved metabolism, reduced hunger, and loss of abdominal fat.
Insulin resistance occurs when the body is unable to respond to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.
Rather than convert sugar into energy, the cells don’t react, leading to excessive sugar in the blood. The brain’s inability to respond to insulin can negatively impact metabolism and eating habits.
An 8-week exercise program restores healthy insulin activity
Excess abdominal fat (visceral adipose tissue) is one of the main risk factors for developing insulin resistance.
A typical 8-week training inclusive of aerobic training of 1 hour, 3 times a week is an important consideration to restore healthy insulin activity. The intensity of the training is expected to be based on the individual’s fitness.
For a particular study, researchers observed 14 women and 7 men between the ages of 21 and 59 years with a body mass index (BMI) of 27.5–45.5 for an 8-week period. They used an MRI to measure insulin sensitivity in the brain during pre-endurance training and post-endurance training.
By the study’s end, it was found that the exercise program restored insulin activity in the part of the brain connected to hunger and satiety to the same level as someone with a healthy BMI.
In addition, improved insulin sensitivity in the brain boosted metabolism, reduced feelings of hunger, and reduced abdominal fat.
How exercise improves insulin resistance
Endurance exercises are effective when it comes to improving insulin resistance.
Evidence consistently indicates that 8 weeks of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week leads to improvements in insulin sensitivity, and the combination of both aerobic and resistance exercise may lead to even greater improvements.
Endurance exercises work to keep your heart rate up for prolonged periods, even after a workout. They usually involve engaging muscles like the heart and those in the lower body.
Muscle is highly metabolic tissue because it demands high energy to recover from exercise. That said, you don’t have to go hard on intense endurance exercises to start seeing improvements.
How insulin resistance contributes to weight gain
Insulin plays a major role in how the organs and bodily systems function.
When the brain and body don’t respond to insulin normally, it affects all organs including the brain, muscle, and liver, and how we store fat cells.
When this happens, the pancreas needs to make more insulin in order to metabolize carbohydrates and turn the carbs we eat into useful energy. It is imperative to note that when we make high insulin over long periods of time, we store fat better, particularly abdominal fat.
Appetite is also affected when a person is insulin resistant. Insulin resistance facilitates the accumulation of belly fat and increases food cravings, which leads to a vicious cycle of further weight gain.
Another health concern of insulin resistance is the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In excess, adipose tissue releases pro-inflammatory cytokines and free fatty acids that lead to insulin resistance, impaired glucose handling, and type 2 diabetes.
Increasing evidence supports a direct detrimental effect of diabetes on muscle quality and performance such that individuals with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for disability and lower extremity mobility limitations.
Healthy insulin activity in sedentary adults with obesity can be achieved after 8 weeks of exercise, according to a new study.
The findings also show a link between restored insulin sensitivity and improved metabolism, decreased hunger, and weight loss.
The results are encouraging, which could point health experts toward effective therapies to help treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Despite the promising findings, however, study authors noted that more vigorous research is still needed.
If you have obesity and are interested in the many health benefits of exercise, remember that it’s never too late to get started. You may wish to talk with your healthcare professional for more guidance.
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