A study conducted by Dr. Sabyasachi Sen (Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.) and colleagues found that people with prediabetes had developed similar dysfunction of small blood vessels as people with “full blown” diabetes. However, a structured aerobic exercise program over a six week period improved “vascular reactivity” to near normal levels even without weight loss. Vascular reactivity is, in essence, the flexibility of an artery to expand as blood flows through.
The improvement seen in the participants with prediabetes was significantly greater than similar studies of people with diabetes, where vascular reactivity regained only about one half its normal state.
And, while the participants in this study did not show weight loss or improvements in blood pressure, there was a significant drop in cholesterol levels and inflammation markers, both risk factors for heart disease.
These results suggest not only that exercise is crucial in reducing diabetes-related risk for heart disease, but also that early intervention in the prediabetes state may be much more effective in preserving cardiovascular health.