Health: Metabolic Syndrome

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It’s been called the “deadly quartet” as well as “insulin resistance syndrome” and it’s responsible for both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What is now called Metabolic Syndrome is a made up of a perilous collection of risk factors, or cluster of metabolic disorders which taken as a group or individually promote the development of diabetes and atherosclerosis. The root causes of this syndrome are overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, and genetic factors. 

The National Institute of Health has established criteria for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.  If you have 3 out of 5 of these criteria, you may have metabolic syndrome:

· Waist cercumference of greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men

· Triglycerides of greater than 150 mg/dl

·HDL of less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women

·Blood pressure of 135/85 mmHg or greater

·Fasting glucose of greater than 110-126 mg/dl

Although there have been no formal research trials evaluating exercise and metabolic syndrome according to the NIH criteria, there are many trials supporting exercise modification of the individual risk factors that make up Metabolic Syndrome.  The most important of these trials is the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The DPP is the only study in which a comparison of exercise and lifestyle therapy versus a major drug diabetes drug (metformin)was made.  Exercise and lifestyle changes were nearly twice as effective in preventing diabetes.  A Finnish study showed an almost equal result.  According to exercise physiologist Ralph La Forge of the Duke University Lipid and Disease Management program, the outcomes of the DPP etched the efficacy of exercise therapy in the consciousness of physicians, healthcare decision makers and consumers since the study’s publication in 2002.

One of the main reasons why exercise if so effective against diabetes is the induced loss of visceral fat located in the abdomen.  This type of fat is the only fat depot that has direct access to the liver via the portal vein.  The exposure to the liver of high visceral fatty-acid loads can alter insulin signaling and cause insulin resistance.  In exercise, there is an increased need for rapid energy supply and more fat is mobilized from the abdominal visceral and subcutaneous stores as compared to other regions.  It doesn’t even take substantial reductions in the percentage of body fat to have a profound effect on the 5 risk factors mentioned.

So, it’s a good idea to see your personal trainer to get a start on an exercise program made with your specific problems and goals in mind.  Most people with Metabolic Syndrome have been leading a sedentary lifestyle and need to be guided into a safe and effective program.  You may also want to consult this web site for more information regarding an effective program.  http://www.bsc.gwu.edu/dpp/manuals.htmlvdoc.

Exercise is probably the most effective way to treat and prevent Metabolic Syndrome and it’s just another way to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 12 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at [email protected]

(Alan Freishtat – YWN)