A new study suggests that the most effective way for people with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar levels with exercise is by combining aerobic exercises with resistance training.
Previous studies have shown the benefits of aerobic exercises, such as jogging and swimming, and resistance training (muscle strengthening or toning exercises) for people with, or at high risk of, type 2 diabetes.
To assess which form of exercise is most beneficial for managing blood glucose, researchers at the University of Vienna examined previous studies on the exercise habits of 915 participants.
They found that aerobic exercise was more effective for patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in controlling blood sugar levels, compared with resistance training. But a combination of the two was found to have a far bigger impact on diabetes management, with greater reductions seen in blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and body weight.
The investigators did, however, stress that a lot of the research they looked at was of poor quality and only involved patients undergoing intensive, supervised exercise regimes.
“Further high quality with long-term exercise interventions are needed to develop definitive recommendations,” they concluded. “In the meantime, combined aerobic and resistance training can be recommended as part of a lifestyle programme in the management of type 2 diabetes wherever possible.
“Due to the limited information on potential adverse effects of exercise, supervised workouts should be favoured, though of course we accept it is not possible for most people to have supervised workouts in the course of day-to-day living.”
The research was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

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