Professor Conrad Earnest is part of a team of scientists from Bath, Pennington Biomedical Research (Baton Rouge, LA, USA) and Klein Buendel (Golden, Colorado, USA) which looked at the benefits of aerobics and resistance training in individuals with the disease.
The group reported in its paper Exercise Training and Quality of Life in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes published in the journal Diabetes Care that even a small change in lifestyle can improve quality of life and mental health.
Quality of life includes the physical, emotional and social aspects of well-being such as physical functioning, role limitation attributable to physical or emotional problems, bodily pain and energy level. Adults with Type 2 diabetes report a lower quality of life than non-diabetic individuals.
243 sedentary, overweight adults between the ages of 30 and 75 adults took part in the nine-month study to compare the effects of aerobic training, resistance training, or a combination of both with those who did no exercise.
Participants were randomised to one of four groups: aerobic training only; resistance training only; a combination of resistance and aerobic training (combination) or a non-exercise control group.
The non-exercise control group participants were offered a weekly stretching and relaxation class and were asked to maintain their current level of activity during the nine month study period.
Participants in the resistance training group exercised three days a week with each session consisting of two sets of four upper body exercises like bench presses, three sets of three leg exercises and two sets of abdominal crunches and back extensions.
All exercises were conducted at a fitness centre under the supervision of trained exercise interventionists.
Change in quality of life was evaluated using the SF-36 questionnaire, a multi-purpose, short-form health survey with 36 questions.
The results of the study showed that the three exercise groups had greater improvements than the control group. The general health of the participants also improved more for all three groups compared with the control group. In fact, enrolment into the control group was actually stopped early due to the ongoing deterioration of their health without exercise treatment.
Dr Conrad Earnest, one of the study leaders, said: “Overall our data suggest that exercise training has a beneficial effect on quality of life in individuals with Type 2 diabetes who generally report reduced quality of life compared with individuals without diabetes.
This degree of illness, sedentariness, and disease can lead to depression in many of these patients and complements nicely our previous reports from this same study showing not only improved fitness and improved glucose control, but also a significant reduction in medications use.
“Our findings have significant clinical implications and support recommendations for individuals with Type 2 diabetes to adopt exercise programs with combined aerobic and resistance training. A moderately intensive exercise programme consistent with public health recommendation in sedentary individuals with diabetes is likely to result in improved quality of life and exercise interventions should be advocated further as a standard care for individuals with diabetes.
“All in all our study shows that even if you have life-changing illness a little bit of exercise goes a long way for improving your outlook on life.”
University of Bath