Imagine spending a perfect sunny afternoon doing your favorite physical activity, whether it be jogging, biking, swimming, rock climbing, or any other exhilarating outdoor sport. The physical benefits of toning your body and the emotional benefits of lifting your spirits are apparent.
There may, however, be yet another reason to combine your favorite exercise activity with a dose of shining sun – both vitamin D and exercise have been shown individually to guard the body against the onset of diabetes, as well as treat its symptoms. In combination, the preventative and therapeutic effects of both may be a perfect arsenal against diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. The connection between vitamin D levels and type 1 diabetes risk is currently the subject of extensive research. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, the most prevalent source of which is the sun. It is also found in several foods, such as fatty fish and fish liver oils.
According to research performed at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), having sufficient levels of vitamin D during adolescence may reduce the risk of adult-onset type 1 diabetes by up to 50 percent. Alberto Ascherio, the study’s senior author and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH, observes, “the risk of type 1 diabetes appears to be increased even at vitamin D levels that are commonly regarded as normal, suggesting that a substantial proportion of the population could benefit from increased vitamin D intake.”
Regular exercise is a common prescription for patients with chronic pain associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. However, mounting evidence suggests that it may specifically alleviate neuropathy, a pain, numbness or tingling in the arms and legs, in diabetics.
A study published by the International Anesthesia Research Society (IARS) showed that in lab rats chemically induced with diabetes, a progressive exercise program on a treadmill eliminated all symptoms of neuropathy, while the control group of rats who did not exercise showed signs of neuropathic pain. This result seems to be linked to a the ‘heat shock protein,’ a natural protective substance released by the body. Symptoms of neuropathy are present in approximately half of diabetic patients.
Whatever your favorite workout, the benefits to your body will be increased if you combine it with a little sunshine. Making outdoor exercise a habit may even ward off the scourge of diabetes. For those suffering from diabetes, more vitamin D and regular exercise may keep you pain-free and in the healthiest condition possible.
– The Alternative Daily