How a diabetes drug might affect exercise results

How a diabetes drug might affect exercise results

Some people believe the diabetes drug, metformin, slows down aging. Exercising is also said to keep you looking younger, so what happens if you combine the two?

For a new study published in February, researchers at Colorado State University, University of Illinois and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation asked 53 inactive but healthy men and women in their early 60s who had risk factors related to Type 2 diabetes but were not diabetic to sweat and also consume the metformin drug.

The scientists studied the volunteers’ current insulin activity, body mass, aerobic fitness and blood-sugar levels. They also took small leg-muscle biopsies. They then told the volunteers to start taking metformin or a placebo and to start a supervised exercise program. The exercise program consisted of pedaling a bike or jogging on a treadmill for 45 minutes, three times a week. This routine went on for four months. The researchers took the same measurements from the start of the study and compared the groups.

The results showed that the group not on the drug had decreased fat mass and had overall better stability of glucose levels, whereas the group on metaformin were not showing these benefits even though they were doing the exact same exercise. This study showed that metformin does not appear to help those factors we might associate with reducing aging (weight loss, increased endurance, improved overall health if already healthy).

“Metformin is a medication we commonly use as the first choice in patients with Type 2 diabetes” says Dr. Jacqueline Ivey-Brown, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. “There is currently no evidence to support metformin helps you age slower.”

Dr. Ivey-Brown also says that these results should be taken “with a grain of salt as the study consisted of only 53 participants. With such small numbers and unequal distribution of participants in terms of gender it’s hard to make any conclusions from this study.”

Interested in looking younger? Dr. Ivey-Brown recommends these tips:

  • Participate in regular exercise
    • Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
    • Improves blood sugar regulation
    • Decreases the risk for osteoporosis
    • Improves mental health by improving your mood
  • Develop a healthy lifestyle
    • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily
    • Drink water when thirsty (as opposed to juice or soda)

These are the mainstays to maintaining a healthy, youthful body.

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One Comment

  1. It’s a small group, but did these participants eat the same food?
    Can’t draw any conclusions: Maybe the diet caused the discrepancies in results.

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About the Author

Sana Barkat
Sana Barkat

A junior at DePaul University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Graphic Design; I am currently a Marketing intern at Advocate Health Care.