JAMA Logo Regular exercise is known to provide substantial health benefits for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. Well, it now seems that diabetics performing aerobics and resistance training in combination have better health benefits. A recent study suggests that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training boosts glycemic levels in type 2 diabetes patients. The level of improvement probably did not occur among patients adapting either aerobic exercise or resistance training alone.

Investigators initiated a HART-D trial on 262 sedentary women and men with type 2 diabetes. While 63.0 percent were women and 47.3 percent nonwhite, the average age was 56 years. It was noted that the HbA1c level of 7.7 percent and diabetes duration was 7.1 years. Participants were subjected to a-month exercise program between April 2007 and August 2009. Throughout the study experts aimed to compare the effect of aerobic training, resistance training, and a combination of both on change in hemoglobin A1c levels.

Scientists comment, “Only the combination exercise group improved maximum oxygen consumption compared with the control group. All exercise groups reduced waist circumference from [-.75 to -1.1 inches] compared with the control group. The resistance training group lost an average of 3.1 lbs. fat mass and the combination training group lost an average of 3.7 lbs., compared with the control group. The primary finding from this randomized, controlled exercise trial involving individuals with type 2 diabetes is that although both resistance and aerobic training provide benefits, only the combination of the 2 were associated with reductions in HbA1c levels. It also is important to appreciate that the follow-up difference in HbA1c between the combination training group and the control group occurred even though the control group had increased its use of diabetes medications while the combination training group decreased its diabetes medication uses.”

41 volunteers belonged to the non-exercise control group, 73 in resistance training sessions, 72 for aerobic exercise sessions and 76 adapted combined aerobic and resistance training. An absolute change in HbA1c among the combination training group appeared. Alterations in HbA1c were seemingly noted among -0.34 percent of the control group. Timothy S. Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., of Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, La., and colleagues registered similar modifications in -0.16 percent resistance training and -0.24 percent aerobic groups. 39 percent control, 32 percent resistance training, 22 percent aerobic and 18 percent combination training groups reported prevalence of elevation in hypoglycemic medications.

The study is published in the November 24 issue of JAMA.