Research has shown that combining resistance training with aerobic exercise improves blood glucose levels in people who have type 2 diabetes, in comparison to those who don’t exercise, or in individuals who did either resistance training or aerobic exercise alone. Although it’s well established that regular exercise offers considerable health benefits for type 2 diabetes individuals, the exact exercise type (resistance vs. aerobic vs. both) hasn’t been clear.
The researchers compared the effect of resistance training, aerobic exercise, and both combined on hemoglobin A1c level changes (hemoglobin A1c levels are made use of for monitoring the control of diabetes mellitus). The participants were 262 sedentary men and women who had type 2 diabetes, with hemoglobin A1c level of 7.7% and who had diabetes for 7.1 years. They were enrolled in a 9 month exercise program, 41 were assigned to the non exercise group; 72 to the aerobic exercise group; 73 to the resistance training group; and 76 to the resistance training and aerobic exercise combination group.
The absolute change in hemoglobin A1c in the combined training vs. the control group was -0.34%. Changes in hemoglobin A1c in the resistance training and the aerobic groups were not significant in comparison to those in the control group. The increase of hypoglycemic medications was 39% in the control, 22% in the aerobic group, 32% in the resistance training, and 18% in the combination group.
Only the combination group experienced maximum oxygen consumption improvement in comparison to the control group. Waist circumference reduction was experienced by all exercise groups in comparison to the control group. The resistance training group experienced an average loss of 3.1 lbs. fat mass and the combination group an average loss of 3.7 lbs., in comparison to the control group.
The study concluded that even though both resistance training and aerobic exercise provide benefits, only the 2 combined were linked to hemoglobin A1c level reductions. It’s also significant that the difference in hemoglobin A1c between the combination and the control group happened despite the fact that the control group had increased diabetes medication use while the combination group decreased diabetes medication use.