“Resistance training, similarly to aerobic training, improves metabolic features and insulin sensitivity and reduces abdominal fat in type 2 diabetic patients,” according to a recent report in Diabetes Care.
Italian researchers randomized 40 type 2 diabetics to follow either an aerobic or strength training program for four months. The increase in peak oxygen consumption (VO2 peak) was greater in the aerobic group, whereas the strength training group gained more strength. Hemoglobin A1c was similarly reduced in both groups, about 0.37%. Body fat content was reduced in both groups, and insulin sensitivity and lean limb mass were similarly increased. Pancreas beta-cell function didn’t change.
According to this one study, neither type of training seems superior overall. If you’re just going to do one type of exercise program, choose your goal. Do you want more strength, or more sustainable “windpower”?
The Pennington Biomedical Research Center found somewhat different results in their larger and more complex study published in 2010. However, they were primarily testing for diabetes control (as judged by hemoglobin A1c improvement), rather the improvements in strength or aerobic power. They found the combination of aerobic and strength training is needed to improve diabetic blood sugar levels. Both types of exercise—when considered alone—did not improve diabetes control.
As for me, I do both strength and aerobic training.
By the way, I only read the abstract of the current research, not the full report.
PS: PWD = people or person with diabetes. Do you like that term or would you prefer “diabetic”?
Reference: Bacchi. Elizabeth, et al. Metabolic Effects of Aerobic Training and Resistance Training in Type 2 Diabetic Subjects
A randomized controlled trial (the RAED2 study). Diabetes Care. Published online before print February 16, 2012, doi: 10.2337/dc11-1655