Improve Insulin Sensitivity Naturally

Even though most of us realize that there are significant health benefits to even modest exercise, nearly one-third of us choose not to do any activity. Studies have shown that regular moderate exercise provides many health benefits including:
  • Weight loss (Try My Action Project Leading Clean Keto Meal Plan Weight Loss Plan)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stronger bones and decreased risk of Osteoporosis
  • Lower total cholesterol levels
  • Decreased levels of triglycerides-the other fat in our blood
  • Increased strength and coordination, which leads to decreased falls and injuries
  • Boost and Support you Immune system with USANA Proglucamume
  • Overall increase in the sense of well-being
  • Improved sensitivity to insulin

Exercise Improves Insulin Sensitivity Naturally

Metabolic syndrome is often characterized by a cluster of conditions including abdominal obesity, atherogenic dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, insulin resistance with or without glucose intolerance, and proinflammatory state. All of these are associated with an increased the risk for developing cardiovascular disease and Diabetes. Insulin resistance appears to be a core problem for individuals who are overweight or obese. When you are in a state of insulin resistance, your body simply holds onto fat like a sponge holds onto water.   Exercise along with a healthy diet and cellular nutrition become the three pillars needed to live a healthy life. The one thing that our body cannot handle is inactivity.  You will learn from this training that you don’t have to be a marathon runner; simple, consistent walking is one of the keys of releasing body fat.

Physical Training and Insulin Sensitivity

Well trained athletes all have one common characteristic—they all have low plasma insulin levels and are very sensitive to insulin.  It does not seem to matter which activity or sport these well trained athletes are involved. Simply being in excellent physical condition does have its health benefits and one of them is a significant sensitivity to insulin. Weight lifters or athletes who are primarily involved in anaerobic (weight resistant exercise) have improved glucose handling because of the increase in muscle mass.  Since 80% to 90% of the blood glucose is normally taken up by the muscle cells, these athletes have more muscle to take up the glucose. In fact, in most studies these individuals have 35% greater muscle mass than the controlled population, who are sedentary.  Runners or athletes that are primarily involved in aerobic exercise, on the other hand and have improved glucose handling because of enhanced insulin sensitivity. You will learn later, there are many good reasons to have both aerobic and anaerobic activity in your exercise program.

Physical Activity in Previously Sedentary Individuals

One study looked at individuals who were previously sedentary and obese and then followed an endurance training program for 8 weeks.  The results have shown that a continuous exercise training protocol that can elicit high rates of fat oxidation increases the contribution of fat to substrate oxidation during exercise and can significantly increase insulin sensitivity (Venables etal 2008). Even though very intensive activity can significantly enhance insulin sensitivity, modest, long-term physical activity such as walking is also very effective.  No matter what your age or condition, the scientific evidence strongly supports the fact that modest physical training can improve sensitivity to insulin.

Modest Exercise in Individuals who are Overweight

As you have learned, central obesity is associated with marked insulin resistance.  Duncan et al (2003). studied the effect of modest exercise in previously sedentary, overweight individuals for 6 months.  The study found that even modest amounts of exercise in the absence of weight loss positively affect markers of glucose and fat metabolism in previously sedentary and overweight adults.

How Exercise Affects Insulin Sensitivity

Exercise has several positive affects on insulin sensitivity, which helps restore the normal response to insulin in the body.  First of all, the capillary bed (the small blood vessels) in the muscle actually dilates and creates significantly more blood flow to the muscle. One of the first problems that leads to insulin resistance is the vasoconstriction (narrowing of the arteries) of this capillary bed in the muscle, which decreases the blood flow to the muscle.  Exercise is the key in promoting this circulation to the muscle tissue.  This allows much more insulin to actually get to the muscle cell. There is also a significant increase in the transport of glucose into the muscle cell.  This is believed to be due to an increase in receptor sites on the muscle cell and enhancement of postreceptor site transport of glucose.

How Much Exercise is Necessary to Improve Insulin Sensitivity?

It is critical to answer the question how much and what type of exercise is necessary to significantly improve insulin sensitivity.  As mentioned earlier, aerobic exercise is the type of exercise that actually improves insulin sensitivity.  This does not mean that anaerobic or weight resistant exercise is not beneficial. Increasing muscle mass means that there will be more muscle tissue to take up blood glucose; however, it does not improve insulin sensitivity.  Aerobic exercise has been found to be very beneficial in improving insulin sensitivity in everyone, including those who have been sedentary, overweight, or have type 2 diabetes mellitus.  Therefore, it is important that aerobic exercise makes up your primary exercise program. Work out aggressively for a day or two and then quit for a couple of weeks really accomplishes very little.  Various studies have documented the improvement of insulin sensitivity with various types and levels of intensity of aerobic activity.  Increased aerobic fitness and/or physical activity (3 hours per week moderate activity and/or 1 hour per week vigorous activity) have been demonstrated to be protective of metabolic syndrome. Regular moderate to vigorous physical activity (150 minutes per week moderate activity and/or 90 minutes per week vigorous activity) has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even in high-risk individuals. Exercise should be performed at least 3 days per week, with no more than 2 days between exercise. Strength training, alone or in combination with regular aerobic exercise, has been shown to improve glycemic control, hypertension, and other type 2 diabetes-related risk factors (Robert F. Z, 2007, American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine).

Developing a Consistent, Effective Personal Exercise Program

When it comes to directing and encouraging people to make some healthy lifestyle changes, several factors need to be taken into consideration. First, the approach to an exercise program must be practical and achievable. Second, people must understand the importance of developing a consistent and effective exercise program, which is much easier than most people realise. Third, they need to be encouraged to take the steps that are necessary to successfully accomplish their goal of improved health and long-term weight management. To most of us, exercise is probably something we have made a conscious decision to avoid at all costs.  There may be many reasons – too busy, not athletic and all the other excuses.  So let’s look at what you need to think about and consider before pursuing any type of exercise program.

How to Choose A Program

It is critical that you choose an exercise program in which you can remain consistent.  You must enjoy the exercise program as much as is humanly possible and you must exercise in an atmosphere where you are totally comfortable.  This may or may not be in a gym, a health club, a park, or anywhere in public. Some people are self-conscious about their bodies and often do not want to parade around in an environment that they perceive as uncomfortable.  Others may need to join a gym because they enjoy working out with other people or need the encouragement and support of a group exercise program.  The important thing is to realise that you choose an exercise program that is comfortable for you and that you will enjoy and be consistent with. If you are interested in losing weight, check out My Action Projects 10 Important Tips for Losing Weight

Walk Every Day

You can always begin with a simple walking program because it is generally easier, low-impact, and does not require spending any extra money on equipment or gym fees.  You may also choose to ride bike, jog, swim, play tennis, or join an aerobic exercise group at a local gym. You can blend a couple or several different aerobic exercise activities into your exercise program.  For instance, you may play tennis twice a week and walk while playing golf three times a week.  You may belong to an aerobic exercise group three times a week and ride your mountain bike twice a week. You may even be involved in heavy yard work twice a week and be walking three times a week.  Or you may be involved in a weight resistance program twice weekly and an aerobic program three times weekly.

How To Be Consistent

One of the main reasons exercise programs fail and fail quickly is because people think that they are going to simply work an exercise program into their already very busy schedule.  This simply will not work—your schedule will always win out. The only way to have a successful, consistent exercise program is to actually schedule each and every workout instead of simply trying to work them into your schedule.  If long-term weight management is your personal goal, it will not happen without a consistent, effective exercise program.  Therefore, it must be a priority in developing a healthy lifestyle. Don’t overdo it!!! Set realistic goals and intensity.  This is not a race.  Another reason exercise programs fail is because individuals begin to literally attack their workouts believing that where there is no pain there is no gain.  This is just the opposite of how you need to approach developing an effective work out program. You need to start your exercise program very slowly and very carefully.  If you are choosing a walking program, then you need to walk comfortably and try to build up slowly.  Once you are able to walk comfortably for 30 minutes five times weekly, you can pick up the pace and walk more briskly (power walking). When you are comfortable and have adjusted to this level of activity, then you should move towards power walking 45 minutes, 5 times weekly (this would be walking approximately 4-5 Km per workout). If you are over 40 years of age or have significant risk factors for coronary artery disease (high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes), you need to see your doctors before starting any type of exercise program. If you have any musculoskeletal problems (bad back, painful knees, etc), you should consider having a physiotherapist who can help guide you into an exercise program that will not aggravate your underlying condition. Most of you need to consider any physical limitations you have when considering what type of exercise program you need to pursue.  For example, if you have very painful feet and walking makes them much worse, walking would not be a good exercise program for you to undertake.  If you have a painful shoulder, tennis may not be your best choice. Another important aspect in choosing an exercise program is whether it needs to be done outdoors or not.  If you live in a colder climate and love to walk outside as your exercise program, you need to have a back up alternative such as a treadmill indoors.  Therefore, if it is a rainy, slippery day outside, you can jump on your treadmill to do your exercise program. It is critical that you have something available to be able to workout all year around no matter what the weather is outside.

Benefits of Strength / Resistance Training

Strength or resistance training offers positive fitness and health benefits for ordinary adults of all ages. In a well-designed program, resistance training involving the upper extremities can provide increased challenge to the long bones of the upper extremities, the spine, pelvis, and ribs.  This can produce positive results for those who may have, or who are prone to, osteoporosis.  Generally an aerobics program will stress only the lower extremities. Resistance training can prevent the loss of muscle mass and even increase the muscle mass while aiding in your fat-loss effort. Since muscle is the furnace that burns the body’s fuel, glucose, the more muscle mass you have, the easier it is to maintain your optimal body weight.  It was once believed that the loss of muscle mass, especially in the upper body, was a normal part of the aging process. Strength training not only helps prevent the loss of muscle mass associated with aging but can actually increase muscle mass even for those in their eighties and nineties.  It is a known fact that we begin losing muscle mass after age thirty-five unless we are involved in strength training. An appropriately designed resistance program can also help maintain flexibility and balance.  You can enhance these benefits by adding stretching exercises.  A well-designed workout can also have significant cardiovascular benefits.  Resistance training plays a vital role in preventing heart attacks by conditioning the cardiovascular system to cope more efficiently with sudden changes in blood pressure and heart rate. A weight resistance program can be quite easy to incorporate into anyone’s exercise program.  If you would like to exercise at home you could purchase some dumbbells, tubing and an instruction book.  For your safety and maximum benefit, you could hire a personal trainer to show you proper exercise form and set up a specific program for you. Another option is to join a gym that offers weight resistance machines plus weights.  They should have certified personal trainers that will create a great, easy-to-follow program for you and show you how to use the equipment safely.  You need to be careful not to do too much too soon as this can lead to injury and will slow down your progress. As you get stronger, you want to continue improving but should change only one element at time—either the weight, the repetitions or the particular exercise.  You can even use your own body resistance to increase muscular strength and endurance.  Push-ups, sit-ups, squats etc. are very effective callisthenic exercises. Whatever you chose, make sure it is affordable, safe and something you can be consistent at doing. Strive for a balance of aerobics, resistance training and stretching in your exercise program that suits your own fitness level.  It is recommended that you purchase a pedometer and challenge yourself to walk over 10,000 steps each day.  This is a good guide for an overall increase in your general activity. A pedometer gives you a very good idea of how active you really are during your day.  When you combine increasing your overall general activity with a consistent exercise program, you will become very successful at achieving your lifestyle goals.


You have learnt throughout the training on this website that you need to develop a triad of healthy lifestyles.  This triad is: (1) a healthy diet that does not spike your blood sugar (2) a modest aerobic exercise (3) nutritional supplementation (cellular nutrition). All three of these go hand-in-hand and if you leave one out, you will have only limited success.  Yes, it takes motivation—however, the My Action Project does work, if you make it a lifestyle long term commitment.