High blood sugar may limit aerobic exercise capacity

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A study finds that hyperglycemia makes it more difficult for people to increase their aerobic capacity. Regular aerobic exercise provides various health benefits, which heighten as a person increases their aerobic capacity. Doctors recommend this form of exercise to help control diabetes, but people with diabetes often have trouble improving this capacity.
Hyperglycemia, or higher-than-normal levels of blood sugar, may prevent people from increasing their aerobic capacity and gaining the health benefits that this type of exercise can provide.
The researchers have observed this diminished effect of aerobic exercise in humans with chronic hyperglycemia when blood sugar levels are within the prediabetes range, as well as in mouse models. “The idea behind this study was to see: If we induce high blood sugar in mice, will we impair their ability to improve their aerobic fitness?”.
In designing the study, the researchers hoped to learn more about the mechanisms behind this potential effect, in an effort to find new ways to help people with hyperglycemia boost their fitness levels.
Initially, the increased blood sugar levels in two groups of mice:
The first group received a Western diet high in saturated fat and sugar. The mice became hyperglycemic and gained weight.
The second group consumed a diet with less sugar and fat and did not gain weight. However, these mice acquired hyperglycemia as a result of modifications that caused them to produce less insulin.
“The idea behind this study was to see: If we induce high blood sugar in mice, will we impair their ability to improve their aerobic fitness?” says Prof. Lessard. In designing the study, the researchers hoped to learn more about the mechanisms behind this potential effect, in an effort to find new ways to help people with hyperglycemia boost their fitness levels.
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