Exercise can change gene expression and may help to stave off the onset of diabetes, shows new research. Metabolic genes involved in glucose transport and mitochondrial regulation are lower in people with diabetes, which may be responsible for insulin resistance. Exercise protects the body from metabolic disease by boosting genes involved in muscle oxidation and glucose regulation. “Exercise is one therapeutic to maintain sensitivity of the organs to insulin and prevent diabetes,” says lead researcher Juleen Zierath. “This shows that there is some molecular evidence to support that notion that exercise is a medicine.” When studying tissue samples from the thigh muscles of 14 sedentary people before and after exercising for 20 minutes, the researchers found changes in the genes` metabolic functions that regulate the transport of glucose in and out of cells. Through studies of rat muscle cells, the researchers confirmed that the changes were due to muscle contraction from exercise and not other factors, such as circulating hormones. The changes only lasted for a few hours after exercise before returning to baseline. However, the researchers speculate that regular exercise would make lasting metabolic changes that offer protection from developing diabetes.