In a study, scientists found that performing a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training was associated with improved glycemic levels among patients with type 2 diabetes, compared to patients who did not exercise.

But the level of improvement was not seen among patients who performed either aerobic exercise or resistance training alone. Timothy S. Church of Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, La., and colleagues conducted the HART-D trial, which compared among 262 sedentary women and men with type 2 diabetes the effect of aerobic training, resistance training, and a combination of both on change in hemoglobin A1c levels.

The individuals were enrolled in the 9-month exercise program between April 2007 and August 2009. Forty-one participants were assigned to the nonexercise control group; 73 to resistance training sessions; 72 to aerobic exercise sessions; and 76 to combine aerobic and resistance training. The researchers found that the absolute change in HbA1c in the combination training group vs. the control group was -0.34 percent. In neither the resistance training nor the aerobic groups were changes in HbA1c significant compared with those in the control group. The prevalence of increases in hypoglycemic medications was 39 percent in the control, 32 percent in the resistance training, 22 percent in the aerobic, and 18 percent in the combination training groups.

“Only the combination exercise group improved maximum oxygen consumption compared with the control group. All exercise groups reduced waist circumference from [-.75 to -1.1 inches] compared with the control group,” the authors wrote. The resistance training group lost an average of 3.1 lbs. fat mass and the combination training group lost an average of 3.7 lbs., compared with the control group.

The finding was published in the November 24 issue of JAMA.

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