Get Moving, Get Blood Sugar Control

Structured exercise improves blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes

(RxWiki News) One of the easiest ways to keep diabetes under control is to exercise. Experts already recommend that people with diabetes should exercise for at least two and a half hours per week.

Researchers found that taking part in structured exercise programs may help patients with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugar levels, which can protect them from the harmful effects of their disease. Exercise is only hopeful in controlling diabetes if patients are also on a diet made to treat diabetes.

"Exercise can help you control diabetes."

Daniel Umpierre, M.Sc., from the Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre in Brazil, and colleagues reviewed previous research in order to study the relationship between structured exercise training and hemoglobin A1c levels (a marker of blood sugar control, abnormal is ≥6.5%).

Before this study, researchers already knew that regular exercise improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes. However, the authors write, they did not know the different effects of different exercise programs.

Because the exercise program seems to go hand in hand with a special diet, the authors write that doctors should combine these two lifestyle interventions when treating patients with diabetes.

In addition, the researchers found that patients had even more blood sugar control when they exercised more than 150 minutes per week. This is important because the current recommendation is to exercise 150 minutes per week.

The Study

  • The studies in the review were randomized controlled clinical trials that lasted for at least 12 weeks
  • Structured exercise training was associated with a 0.67 percent reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels
  • Structured aerobic exercise was associated with a 0.73 percent reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels
  • Structured resistance training was associated with a 0.57 percent reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels
  • Combined training (aerobic plus resistance training) was associated with a 0.51 percent reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels
  • Structured exercise training for more than 150 minutes per week was associated with a 0.89 percent reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels, compared to a 0.36 percent reduction in those who exercised for less than 150 minutes per week
  • A combination of exercise advice and dietary advice was associated with a 0.58 percent reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels.
  • More intensive exercise was not associated with a bigger reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels 
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Review Date: 
May 5, 2011