Smart Exercise Strategies for People with Type 2 Diabetes

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Physical activity of almost any kind is good for your health. Exercise lowers your risk of heart disease and can help you keep your blood glucose levels in check. Findings from a 2019 study in Cardiovascular Diabetology provide insight into the types of exercise that may offer special benefits to people with type 2 diabetes.

Researchers randomly assigned 80 adults with type 2 diabetes to one of three groups: high-intensity aerobic exercise plus resistance training, moderate-intensity exercise plus resistance training, or counseling on the importance of physical activity. The two exercise groups took part in supervised sessions three times a week for one year. Researchers used imaging studies to assess the condition of the participants’ arteries at the start of the study and at one year.

Follow-up imaging studies showed that both moderate- and high-intensity aerobic exercise plus resistance training improved the flexibility of the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain. But only high-intensity exercise improved the flexibility of the peripheral arteries, which supply blood to the hands, legs, and feet.

Current American Diabetes Association guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise each week. These results suggest that if you favor moderate-intensity exercise, it may be smart to include at least some high-intensity exercise. But be sure to get the OK from your doctor before you start.

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