Combination Exercise is Best for Patients with Diabetes
Undoubtedly every family physician who cares for patients with type 2 diabetes knows the value of regular physical activity in helping these patients manage their disease. Now a new study suggests that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training may offer benefits exceeding those achieved with either of these activities alone.
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine evaluated Canadian adults ages 39-70. Researchers wanted to determine the comparative effects of aerobic exercise alone, resistance training alone, as wells as combined aerobic and resistance training on hemoglobin A1c values in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Participants were randomized into aerobic training–only, resistance training-only, combined exercise training, and control groups. All members of the exercise groups were given a free six-month membership to an exercise facility; their exercise was supervised weekly for the first four weeks and biweekly after that. Members of all exercise groups participated in three weekly sessions.
The frequency of direct training supervision was identical across all exercise groups. All study participants also received the same level of dietary and medication intervention.
Adjusted absolute hemoglobin A1c values showed significant decreases in both the aerobic-only and resistance-only training groups compared with the control group. In the combined exercise training group, however, these rates declined by an additional 0.46% compared with the aerobic-only training group and by an additional 0.59% compared with the resistance-only training group. For participants with a baseline hemoglobin A1c value at or above the median of 7.5 %, decreases in hemoglobin A1c value were greater than in patients whose baseline values were less than the median.
Family physicians should recommend resistance training in addition to aerobic exercise. Diversification of exercise has many proven positive effects.