Most Effective Exercise for Diabetes

The Prevalence and Risks of Diabetes

It is well-known that exercise helps type 2 diabetes. However, a new study shows that a specific exercise regimen might be better than others for controlling the disease.

Seven percent or 20.8 million adults and children in the United States suffer with diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing other diseases, some of them being life-threatening.

For instance, 65% of people with diabetes die from stroke or heart attack. More specifically, those with diabetes die from heart attacks 2-4 times more often than those without diabetes.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 20-74 years old. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney disease. Additionally, approximately 60-70% of people with diabetes also suffer from nervous system disorders, and as a result, may experience pain or loss of sensation in the hands and feet, have slower digestion, and carpel tunnel. Individuals with diabetes may also suffer from periodontal (gum disease), biochemical imbalances, and sexual dysfunction.

Effective Exercise

Examining the Effects of Different Exercise Regimens on Diabetes

According to the authors of this study, previous research has shown that exercise programs leads to more effectively controlled diabetes. However, previous research has not compared combination resistance training and aerobic exercise to either program alone. For this reason, Dr. Ronald J. Sigal and his colleagues conducted a study to determine how effective a combination exercise program is compared to either aerobic or resistance training exercise alone.

This study involved 251 adults with type 2 diabetes aged 39-70 years old. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of four exercise programs. One group was instructed not to exercise. Another group completed 45 minutes of resistance or weight training three times a week. A third group completed 45 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. The last group of participants completed 45 minutes of resistance training exercise and 45 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week.

Aerobic exercise included working out on the redmill or exercise bike while resistance training consisted of several exercises done on weight machines.

None of the participants exercised regularly before the start of the study.

Effective Exercise

Study Findings and Their Implications

Sigal and his colleagues measured A1c levels to determine which exercise program was most effective for type 2 diabetes. A1c is the measure of blood sugar concentrations in a person’s blood for the two-three month period prior.

The researchers found that both aerobic exercise and resistance training exercise reduced A1c levels by approximately 0.5%. Participants who completed the combination exercise program had A1c decreases of almost 1% (0.97%, specifically). Finally, those who participated in no exercise exhibited no change in A1c levels over the 26-week study.

Sigal noted that a reduction of 1% in A1c levels decreases the risk for heart attack and stroke by 15-20% and reduces the risk of developing other diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy by 25-40%.

It seems evident that diabetics who engage in combination exercise programs can more effectively control their diabetes as well as reduce their risk of developing other diabetes-related conditions.

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