Exercise Helps Control Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes patients had improved blood sugar control during aerobic and resistance exercise

November 22, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

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(dailyRx News) When it comes to controlling type 2 diabetes, exercise plays a crucial role. Even resistance exercise like weightlifting can lower blood sugar levels. Now it seems resistance exercise may also be good in type 1 diabetes.

Researchers found that both resistance exercise and aerobic exercise (e.g., walking, biking and swimming) lowered blood sugar levels in patients with type 1 diabetes while they exercised.

After the workout was finished, however, patients had better blood sugar levels after resistance exercise than after aerobic exercise.

"Stay active to help control your blood sugar."

For their study, Ronald J. Sigal, MD, MPH, of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Calgary in Canada, and colleagues compared the effects of aerobic exercise and resistance exercise on blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes.

They looked at how these two types of exercise affected blood sugar levels during and after workouts. Results showed that blood sugar levels dropped more during aerobic exercise than during resistance exercise.

After resistance exercise, blood sugar levels did not change much. However, blood sugar levels increased after aerobic exercise.

From 4.5 to 6 hours after exercise, blood sugar levels were significantly lower after resistance exercise than after aerobic exercise.

The authors concluded that resistance exercise causes less initial drops in blood sugar during activity but is associated with more prolonged decreases in post-exercise blood sugar levels compared to aerobic exercise.

These results suggest that resistance training is good for you beyond sculpting shapely muscles.

"I'm a big believer in resistance training," said James Crowell, co-owner and head trainer at Integrated Fitness.

"I have seen extremely positive results in areas outside of pure strength when resistance is incorporated into your workout. When you couple resistance and intensity, it really helps produce a great cardiovascular 'gas tank' for everything from running to moving anything heavy in your daily life," said Crowell, who was not involved in the research.

The study included only 12 participants with type 1 diabetes. Participants did 45 minutes of resistance exercise, 45 minutes of aerobic exercise or no exercise on separate days.

Resistance exercise consisted of three sets of seven exercises at a maximum of eight repetitions. For aerobic exercise, participants ran.

During resistance exercise, participants' blood sugar levels decreased from about 8.4 to 6.8 mmol/L. In comparison, blood sugar levels dropped from 9.2 to 5.8 mmol/L during aerobic exercise.

While blood sugar levels did not change much after resistance exercise, blood sugar increased by about 2.2 mmol/L after aerobic exercise.

A normal blood sugar level while fasting (not eating) is usually less than 6.1 mmol/L. A normal level 2 hours after eating should be less than 7.8 mmol/L for people 50 years of age and younger and less than 8.9 for those aged 60 and older.

The study was very small in size. For this reason, more research is needed to confirm the results. The study was published November 19 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.