Physical therapy found effective for diabetics

November 1st, 2008 - 1:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 1 (IANS) Diabetics combining aerobic and resistance exercise showed improvements in glucose control, physical performance and body fat composition, according to a new study. “Although aerobic exercise is what is typically recommended for treating people with diabetes, this study shows that adding a high-force strength training component has significant advantages,” said American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) spokesperson Robin L. Marcus, the study’s co-author.

These findings were published in the November issue of Physical Therapy (PTJ), the scientific journal of APTA.

Diabetes affects approximately 24 million adults and children in the US alone. The onset of type 2 diabetes - a chronic illness marked by decreased insulin sensitivity and overall poor glucose control - is fostered by decreased physical activity.

“Patients with diabetes and their healthcare providers should be encouraged that physical therapy has been shown to be a cost-effective and safe treatment alternative,” said Marcus.

The study evaluated 15 people with type-2 diabetes who participated in a 16-week supervised exercise training programme: seven in a combined aerobic and eccentric resistance exercise programme, and eight in a programme of aerobic exercise only.

After three months, Marcus and LaStayo, another co-author, found that both groups showed improved glucose control and physical performance in a six-minute walk, as well as a decrease in fat composition within the leg muscles, according to an APTA statement.

“Although aerobic exercise is still key in treating diabetes, it should not be used in isolation,” Marcus cautioned. “As people age, they lose muscle mass and, subsequently, mobility, resulting in a greater risk of falls.

Adding resistance training to the diabetes treatment regimen leads to improved thigh lean tissue which, in turn, may be an important way for patients to increase resting metabolic rate, protein reserve, exercise tolerance, and functional mobility, she noted.

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