“Society needs to embrace exercise as medicine,” says Laurie Goodyear, Ph.D. (above left). In Joslin’s new fitness facility, she discusses the benefits of exercise with patient David Dekker, who periodically comes to Joslin from Canada for DO-IT, a four-day refresher course, to update his diabetes skills.
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The new Biodex system, operated by exercise physiologist Jeffrey Richard, M.S., R.C.E.P. (above right), measures strength, endurance and range of motion, providing precise data to gauge whether patients are gaining strength. Dr. Goodyear, who helped design the facility, is primarily a lab scientist who focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of exercise. She’s found that when muscles contract, signals become activated, leading to glucose being cleared from the blood and into the muscles.
New research also suggests that contracting muscles secrete proteins into the circulation that improve glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and lipid levels. One goal is to design drugs that imitate signals generated by exercise or speed up the process.
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Another question: Can fat tissue be made healthier? “When we transplanted subcutaneous fat tissue from exercise-trained mice into untrained mice, the ‘trained’ fat imparted the benefits of exercise to the untrained mice, working to prevent the harmful effects of a high-fat diet,” she says. “This suggests the trained fat is secreting something beneficial. These findings—including a signal that regulates glucose uptake in skeletal muscle—have led to a partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company. We need to identify those factors and study their benefits in humans, including tissues such as the heart, liver and blood vessels.”
Throughout National Diabetes Month, we will be sharing insights into Joslin’s innovations in care for diabetes and its complications as part of our mission of preventing, treating and curing diabetes. Our vision is a world free of diabetes and its complications.
This week, learn about the integrative approach to diabetes research and care at Joslin — how genes and cells communicate, what goes wrong in diabetes, and how to promote and restore health.
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Photo credit: John Soares