Researchers are gathering evidence that exercise can serve as a replacement for medicine. Researchers at the University of Virginia are conducting research to identify the exact dosage of exercise to supplement one of the most prescribed drugs aimed at improving blood glucose level and vascular health.
Over 33 percent of American adults have been diagnosed with stroke and other health issues, metabolic syndrome and a group of risk factors that greatly increases one’s risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Some risk factors are increased waist circumference (sign of abdominal obesity), rapidly increasing blood pressure, circulating glucose and cholesterol.
Dr.Steven Malin, the study’s principal investigator and an assistant professor stated,
“We currently know that exercise alone or a commonly prescribed anti-diabetes drug, Metformin, are successful at reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors–One might assume then that pairing exercise with Metformin would provide greater impact on health.This doesn’t appear to be the case, though. In some cases, one plus one just doesn’t equal two.”
From previous research, Malin and colleagues found that exercise training by itself reversed many of the risk factors included in metabolic syndrome. But if a patient in the study took Metformin whilst training, the effect of exercise on reversing risk factors was forfeited.
With the new NIH funding, the research team hopes to determine a specific dose of exercise that best supplements the popular drug.
Over the next five years, the team plans to recruit 80 individuals who meet metabolic syndrome criteria based on national guidelines. Each individual will follow a 16-week exercise program that will vary in intensity, and also will be provided either Metformin or a placebo. Participants will have their metabolism, body fat and muscle mass, fitness, glucose control and vascular health measured. An exercise specialist will supervise the exercise training sessions and all exercise and drug treatments will be personalized.
Malin hopes that this study is a step forward in understanding how to expand health regimes for people at risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“We know that exercise is effective at combating disease–But people don’t just exercise. They eat food, take medication and/or dietary supplements, too. These factors alone or collectively may alter the ability of exercise to work” stated Malin.