Regular exercise leads to better glycemic control in type 2 diabetes

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Exercise alone can play an important therapeutic role in patients with type 2 diabetes, study results indicate. However, as the authors point out, most adults with the disease do not exercise regularly.

Dr. Harry T. Pigman and colleagues, from Tulane University in New Orleans, reviewed the medical records of 300 randomly selected type 2 diabetics who received care at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center of New Orleans.

They compared the exercise habits of the 176 patients identified as having good diabetic control (mean glycosylated hemoglobin [HbA1c] < 8.0%) with the 92 identified as having poor control (mean HbA1c, 8.0% or higher).

In adjusted analyses, self-reported regular exercise correlated "positively and significantly" with glycemic control, the team reports in the January issue of the Southern Medical Journal. The odds ratio for poor glycemic control was 2.71 for patients who did not exercise regularly relative to those who did.

The association of exercise with diabetic control was independent of age, body mass index, race, smoking, alcohol intake, diet, and diabetic medications.

These findings, the investigators say, are "consistent with the theory that exercise at least partly contributes to glucose control." They are also in line with several long-term studies that have shown a "consistent beneficial effect of regular exercise training on carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity."

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