This week’s Annals of Internal Medicine has a very well designed study that examined the effect of exercise on patients with diabetes.  Previously sedentary diabetics were randomized to four groups:  one group was enrolled in an aerobic exercise program, a second group was enrolled in a resistance training program, a third group was enrolled in a program with both aerobic exercise and resistance training, and the last group (the control group) was encouraged to return to a sedentary lifestyle.  The patients were all followed to see the effect of these interventions on their diabetic control.

Not surprisingly, the aerobic exercise group and the resistance training group had a bigger decline in their blood sugar (meaning they had better control of their diabetes) than the sedentary control group.  The group that did both aerobic and resistance training had an even bigger decline than the groups that did either one alone.

By the way, the appendix of the article has a detailed description of both the aerobic and the resistance exercise programs, which may be handy if you’re planning an exercise program for yourself.

Even though the results are exactly what we would expect, I think the study is still very valuable.  A study that confirms our suspicions and puts them on a solid foundation of evidence is as helpful as a study that surprises us and forces us to reverse our opinions.  Doctors have always assumed that exercise helped diabetic control; now we know.

Tangential Miscellany:

Many of you have emailed me medical myths, popular but false beliefs about health and illness.  Thank you.  I’m still collecting them, so keep them coming, please.