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Benefits of exercise for Type 2 diabetes

Project summary

Exercise is known to provide health benefits for people living with Type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of developing Type 2. But we don’t yet understand why.

Dr Daniel Wilkinson hopes to understand what’s going on inside the body during exercise and why it has positive effects on our health. In the long term, this could help to develop new drugs which also provide these benefits for people with Type 2 diabetes. 

Background to research

We know that regular exercise can help people to lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes and has health benefits for people living with Type 2. But we don’t fully understand why exercise is beneficial. 

Scientists have suggested that when muscles work hard during exercise, they release products called exercise factors. These have positive health effects on the body, like lowering blood pressure and improving how our body uses insulin. 

But little is known about these exercise factors. And so far they’ve only been studied in cells in the lab and in animals. 

Research aims

Dr Wilkinson wants to understand more about exercise factors, and their health benefits, by looking at how they’re made and how they work in humans. 

He’ll study muscle and blood samples from a small group of healthy people who completed a four week endurance exercise programme. Using a pioneering technique, the team will identify the factors released during exercise, track how they are made and what they do inside the body. 

As this is the first time this has been studied in humans, healthy adults are being involved to get an initial understanding of these exercise factors. This knowledge will then allow the researchers to move on to studying people with Type 2 diabetes in future, larger studies. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Understanding these exercise factors in more detail could add more evidence to the importance of doing exercise. In the future, it could also lead to the development of new drugs that provide the health benefits of exercise.

This could have a major benefit for people with Type 2 diabetes, by potentially boosting their health, and could help to prevent people from developing the condition. 

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