The results showed that improvements in HbA1c levels were greatest among those who were in the combination group. For example, the improvement was -0.34% in the combination exercise group compared with the non-exercisers, while changes in these levels were not significant in those who did aerobic exercise or resistance training alone.
In addition, fewer of the people in the combination exercise group needed to increase the amount of medications they required to control their disease, compared with the other groups. Thirty-nine percent of non-exercisers had to increase these medications compared with 32% in the resistance training group, 22% in the aerobic exercise group, and 18% in the combination group.
"Although both resistance and aerobic training provide benefits, only the combination of the two were associated with reductions in HbA1c levels,” researcher Timothy S. Church, MD, MPH, PhD, of Louisiana State University System in Baton Rouge, La., and colleagues write in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“It also is important to appreciate that the follow-up difference in HbA1c between the combination training group and the control group occurred even though the control group had increased its use of diabetes medications while the combination training group decreased its diabetes medication uses,” they write.