Exercise may be as effective as drugs and diet in managing diabetes, according to a new study.
Authors of the study, which was published in Diabetes Care, analyzed 27 clinical trials that measured the effect of aerobic training, resistance training or combined training for diabetes control. They found that in exercise programs lasting 12 weeks or more, there was a small reduction in hemoglobin A1c, an indicator of how much blood sugar has stuck to red blood cells—a common effect of prolonged diabetes. The authors found no significant difference in effect between aerobic training and resistance training. But they did note a small-to-moderate benefit on other measures of glucose control from combined exercise.
“The reduction in A1c is small; similar to that with long-term drug therapy, insulin therapy, or dietary changes,” said study author Will Hopkins, a professor in the division of sport and recreation at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. “However, the combined small effects of drug therapy, diet and exercise could well be moderate or even large.”