Exercise to Lower Insulin Resistance in Kids

Insulin resistance in children reduced with exercise and training time

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Many medical conditions do not come on suddenly but instead have warning signs first. Diabetes, for example, starts with increased insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance refers to the body's inability to respond appropriately to the hormone insulin.

A recent study found that regular exercise can have a small to medium effect on reducing children's insulin resistance.

This finding means that getting sufficient physical activity each week appeared to decrease children's risk of developing diabetes.

It's not clear how much exercise is needed, so the authors recommend making physical activity a part of children's regular routines.

"Children need physical activity daily."

This study, led by Michael V. Fedewa, MA, of the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia in Athens, looked at the influence of exercise on insulin resistance.

Fedewa and colleagues looked for all research studies published before June 2013 which focused on exercise and insulin resistance in youth.

Of the 546 studies these researchers initially found, 24 met their criteria for well-designed, randomized controlled trials involving children or teens.

Together, these studies involved 1,599 children, ranging from eight to 140 children per study.

In general, the exercise programs in the studies averaged three sessions per week at just under an hour during each session, lasting an average 15 weeks.

Then, they pulled together the data from the 24 studies to determine what factors related to physical activity might influence insulin resistance.

The findings were only calculated in statistical terms, but the researchers basically found that a "small to moderate effect" on improved insulin resistance was found when youth participated in exercising training.

"The cumulative results of our analysis support the belief that exercise is effective in decreasing fasting insulin and improving insulin resistance in children and adolescents," the researchers wrote.

"In the absence of a clear consensus on the most effective type of exercise for treating these outcomes, emphasis should be placed on ways to incorporate daily physical activity, in addition to 'exercise training,' into the lives of children and adolescents, especially those at risk for developing obesity and diabetes," they wrote.

This study was published December 2 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded internally, and the authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 5, 2013
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013