What I Wish I Had Always Known about Exercise and Diabetes (Continued)

Exercise also helps you build and retain your muscle mass, which is the main place you store carbs after you eat them. Almost any type of exercise uses up some of those stores—known as muscle glycogen—but if you don't exercise regularly, your muscles remain packed with it. There is a maximal amount that fits in muscles, which is why building up your muscle mass helps with being able to handle the carbs you eat more effectively. Your liver stores some glucose as glycogen, but not that much relative to your muscles' total storage capacity. Thus, being sedentary ensures that no amount of insulin is going to be able to stimulate more blood glucose uptake into your muscles. Without regular exercise to use up some of that glycogen, you really have nowhere to store carbs, so your blood sugars go up and some of the excess gets turned into body fat instead (since still works to stimulate fat storage even when your muscles are insulin resistant). You can't lose body fat if your insulin levels are high (or you take large doses). Having more muscle—which is an insulin sensitive body tissue—is definitely a good thing, but something you have to work at since aging causes you to lose the muscle fibers you don't use regularly.

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Last Modified Date: April 23, 2013

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