Combining resistance training with a regimen of aerobic exercises has been found to be the most efficient way people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can control their levels of blood sugar, a European study has found.
Previous medical studies have confirmed the benefits from exercise in people who have or are display high risk for the disease, but scientists at the University of Vienna say they wanted to determine which was best for managing blood glucose.
Their study, which analyzed data on more than 900 people involved in 14 separate studies, found patients who had established diabetes had better results in controlling their blood sugar and fasting glucose with aerobic exercises such as swimming or jogging than as a result of resistance training such as toning exercises or muscle strengthening.
However, combining the two exercise regimens yielded a far more effective impact on blood sugar control, suggesting both should be included in any diabetes treatment regimen, the researchers said.
"Combined aerobic and resistance training can be recommended as part of a lifestyle program in the management of type 2 diabetes wherever possible," study leader Lukas Schwingshackl of the University of Vienna said.
Patients employing both strategies experienced more reductions in the levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and body weight, the study found.
The researchers cautioned that the individuals in the analyzed studies were all involved in supervised, intensive exercise regimes, acknowledging that is something not always available to diabetes sufferers.
"Supervised workouts should be favored, though of course we accept it is not possible for most people to have supervised workouts in the course of day-to-day living," Schwingshackl said.
Still, diabetes experts are in agreement about the benefits of exercise in treating type 2 diabetes.
"Both aerobic and resistance activity are capable of reducing blood glucose," says Dr. Gerald Bernstein of New York City's Beth Israel Medical Center.
The different types of exercise analyzed in the recent study have different outcomes, he pointed out, with resistance training building muscles and raising glucose utilization as a result of boosted muscle mass while aerobic training burns glucose immediately during the activity.
"Most importantly, some type of exercise regularly performed makes a big difference in management of blood glucose and reduced risk for complications," Bernstein says.