A combination of aerobic and resistance training may work better than either type of exercise alone in helping people with diabetes control their blood sugar, a new review finds.
Researchers analysed data from 14 studies that included more than 900 people with type 2 diabetes. The studies looked at the role of aerobic or resistance training (workouts such as weightlifting) in boosting the health of diabetics.
Compared with either aerobic or resistance training alone, a regimen that combined both types of workouts was more effective in controlling blood sugar (glucose), blood fats, blood pressure and weight, the researchers said. The combination approach also helped more people reach higher levels of good cholesterol, according to the findings published in the journal Diabetologia.
Read: Diet, exercise boost good cholesterol
The Austrian researchers added that there is evidence that supervised workouts are more effective than unsupervised training, but most people don't have access to the intense, supervised exercise routines used in the studies.
"Combined aerobic and resistance training can be recommended as part of a lifestyle programme in the management of type 2 diabetes wherever possible," conclude the team led by Lukas Schwingshackl of the University of Vienna. They stressed, though, that more study is needed to confirm the findings.
One expert in the United States believes that exercise is always a good choice for people battling type 2 diabetes.
Read: Exercise alone helps type 2 diabetes
"Both aerobic and resistance activity are capable of reducing blood glucose," said Dr. Gerald Bernstein, director of the Diabetes Management Programme at the Friedman Diabetes Institute, part of Beth Israel Medical Centre in New York City.
However, different modes of exercise might have different effects, he added.
"Resistance training builds muscles and thereby increases glucose utilisation through increased muscle mass," Bernstein explained, while "aerobic training burns glucose on the spot."
Bernstein stressed that, "most importantly, some type of exercise regularly performed
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