Diabetes, aging and physical activity

Bruce Frier, Pearl Yang, Albert W. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Citations (Scopus)


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease affecting the regulation of insulin and glucose causing a disruption in the normal control of counterregulatory hormones and macronutrients, resulting in blood glucose accumulation. Metabolic deregulation leads to the production of noxious substances that have a particular propensity for damaging vascular and nervous structures. Physiological changes observed with aging are correlated with a concomitant increase in DM and its associated complications. Long-term complications, including peripheral and central neuropathies, micro- and macrovascular damage, retinopathy, and nephropathy are the major causes of mortality in diabetics [cardiovascular disease (CVD) being the primary complication causing death in this population]. All-cause mortality is three to four times greater in the DM population; hence, management of DM is of timely importance, particularly with a projected prevalence increase of 134% within the next 25 years among individuals over the age of 65 years. Exercise modalities, including endurance and resistance training, were employed to improve glycemic/metabolic control and to ameliorate the progression of DM-related complications. Several risk factors, including glucose levels, blood pressure, lipid/cholesterol profile, and BMI, are reportedly improved with these modes of exercise. However, not all studies demonstrate an improvement in risk factors, but consistently note improvement in complications and a reduction of DM incidence. There is convincing evidence that exercise, with or without specific improvements to traditional DM-related risk factors, is an effective therapy for the management of DM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-73
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Review of Aging and Physical Activity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2006


  • Diabetes complications
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Exercise
  • Type 1
  • Type 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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