Any type of physical training can make your insulin work better. If you’re physically trained, you will generally have a heightened sensitivity to insulin—but why?
It appears that the answer varies according to the type of training you do. For instance, in lean but sedentary young adult women (ages eighteen to thirty-five) engaging in six months of thrice weekly either endurance (aerobic) or resistance (weight) training, both forms of training improved their glucose use, but by different mechanisms.
Weight training apparently results in enhancements in your muscle mass, allowing for greater overall glucose uptake. While endurance training does not increase your muscle mass as much, it does enhance your muscular uptake of blood glucose without changes in body weight or abdominal fat.
What If You’re Older Or Overweight?
Training will still work for you. Sedentary, insulin-resistant, middle-aged adults engaging in 30 minutes of moderate walking three to seven days per week for six months succeeded in reversing their prediabetic state—without changing their diets or losing any body weight (although their body proportions of fat and muscle likely changed).
In older adults (average of 72 years), all it took was low- to moderate-intensity “walking” on mini-trampolines for 20 to 40 minutes four days per week over a four-month period to enhance their glucose uptake without any additional insulin release or loss of abdominal fat.
If you’re young but obese, you’re still in luck. Studies have shown that, regardless of your age, exercise training can improve your insulin action within just one week of training without weight loss or a true training adaptation in muscle.
In addition to walking, you might want to do some weight training as well to further improve your sensitivity to insulin and better control your diabetes.