(HealthDay News) — Certain genes might prevent regular exercise from improving glucose control in up to a fifth of people with type 2 diabetes, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

A group led by Lauren Marie Sparks, PhD, of Florida Hospital and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Orlando, examined clinical trials that looked at the effects of exercise among people with type 2 diabetes. They also looked at genetic research on the topic and research done in animals.

Their analysis revealed that in 15% to 20% of people with type 2 diabetes, exercise did not lead to improvement in glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity or muscle mitochondrial density. The animal and genetic studies suggest that this “resistance to exercise” among people with type 2 diabetes is genetic and can be handed down through generations.

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“Since obesity and lack of physical activity are two key risk factors for type 2 diabetes, physicians frequently recommend exercise and other lifestyle interventions to prevent or manage the disease,” Sparks said in a journal news release. 

“Most people benefit from an exercise regimen, but our research indicates that a significant minority of individuals with type 2 diabetes do not experience the same improvements in metabolism due to their genes.”


  1. Stephens NA and Sparks LM. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014;doi:10.1210/jc.2014-2545.