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Structured exercise needed to control type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Exercise and type 2 diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes can keep Hemoglobin A1c levels lower with 150 minutes a week of resistance training or aerobic exercise, according to a new meta-analysis.

Researchers know exercise can improve diabetes control, but a new study highlights the importance of regular exercise of more than 150 minutes a week to control the disease.

In the new analysis, Daniel Umpierre, M.Sc., of the Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil, and colleagues looked at studies showing how a structured exercise program compared to physical activity for lowering hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels in diabetic patients in 23 trials that were at least 12 weeks in duration.

The findings shows resistance training and aerobic exercise reduce HbA1c levels – a blood test that provides an overall view of diabetes control - for patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers compared their findings to a control group.

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The authors write, "Structured exercise durations of more than 150 minutes per week were associated with HbA1c reductions of 0.89 percent, while structured exercise durations of 150 minutes or less per week were associated with HbA1c reductions of 0.36 percent."

In the study, physical activity advice was not associated with better diabetes control, highlighting the importance of a combination of structured exercise of more than 150 minutes a week, medication therapy and dietary interventions to control diabetes.

The authors explain, ..."our findings demonstrate that structured exercise of more than 150 minutes per week is associated with greater declines in HbA1c than structured exercise of 150 minutes or less per week in patients with type 2 diabetes. This finding is important because the current guideline-recommended exercise duration is at least 150 minutes per week."

The authors also found high intensity exercise was not associated with p HbA1c reduction.

The finding suggests the importance regular aerobic exercise, resistance training, or a combination of both for controlling type 2 diabetes. The study found physical activity alone failed to reduce HbA1c levels for patients with the disease.

JAMA: 2011;305(17):1790-1799. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.576
"Physical Activity Advice Only or Structured Exercise Training and
Association With HbA1c Levels in Type 2 Diabetes"
Daniel Umpierre et al