Combining aerobics and weight training is the best exercise regime for diabetics to help lower their blood sugar, a study has indicated.
Researchers found that the mixing the two techniques was also the best way to lose weight, compared with weight training or aerobics alone.
Blood sugar fuels the muscles and is burned faster during aerobic activity. Training with weights builds muscle, and both exercises change muscle proteins in ways that enhance this process.
“It’s clear that doing both aerobic and strength training is superior to either alone,” said lead author Dr Tim Church of Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “It’s almost like taking two different drugs.”
The patients who took part in the study exercised for around 45 minutes three days a week. The results were achieved over a nine month period.
“People can manage this amount of exercise,” said Laurie Goodyear of Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study but does similar research. “They didn’t have to go on a diet. This was purely an exercise effect.”
The aim of the research was to use three exercise regimes that could be recommended to patients by doctors which they would continue to do.
Researchers compared aerobics alone, weight training alone and a combination of both. US guidelines recommend aerobics and weight training combined for all adults.
They found that only the group that combined aerobics and weights both lowered their blood sugar and lost weight, although all three fitness groups reduced their waist sizes.
Fewer patients in the combined group started taking new diabetes drugs than in the other groups. Decisions on medications were left up to the patients’ regular doctors during the study.
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.