Structured exercise programs may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels

While physical activity has been shown to improve overall health, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that structured exercise training and education programs may be particularly beneficial for individuals who have type 2 diabetes.

The review of 47 randomized controlled clinical studies involving more than 8,500 diabetics showed that these types of interventions help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels by reducing the amounts of hemoglobin A1c in their bodies.

"Exercise is a cornerstone of diabetes management, along with dietary and pharmacological interventions," the researchers explained.

The study's results showed that compared to control subjects who did not have diabetes, participants with type 2 diabetes who engaged in structured aerobic exercise or resistance training experienced reductions in hemoglobin A1c levels of 0.73 percent and 0.57 percent, respectively. A combination of these two programs reduced hemoglobin A1c levels by 0.51 percent.

Moreover, the findings indicated that longer durations of structured exercise, but not high-intensity workouts, provided enhanced blood glucose benefits.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), A1c tests measure a diabetic's average blood glucose control over the past two or three months. The organization recommends that individuals with type 2 diabetes get their A1c levels checked at least two times annually.

The ADA provided one example of how A1c tests benefited one type 2 diabetes patient. A 49-year-old man named Bob was told by his physician that he may need to start taking insulin injections because his condition was getting progressively worse. However, the doctor recommended that he first try a strict diet and exercise regimen.

After Bob had followed this plan for three months, his blood sugar results showed that he was effectively managing his blood glucose levels, and his doctor explained that the A1c test confirmed that the program had provided long-term results.