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Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas looked at health records from people with type 2 diabetes. They found that people who exercised had lower body fat, smaller waist size and better blood sugar control than people who were inactive.
The positive effects of exercise were seen whether people did aerobic exercise, resistance training or a combination of the two. People also saw positive effects from exercise even if they didn't have any improvement in their heart/lung (cardiorespiratory) fitness, the investigators found.
"What we observed is that exercise improves diabetes control regardless of improvement in exercise capacity," co-author Dr. Jarett Berry, associate professor of internal medicine and clinical sciences at UT Southwestern, said in a center news release.
The study was published June 17 in the journal Diabetes Care.
About 30 percent of people who exercise are considered non-responders, the researchers said. That means they can't improve their cardiorespiratory fitness despite regular exercise.
The fact that some of the diabetes patients who exercised didn't have improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness, but still gained other health benefits, "suggests that our definition of 'non-responder' is too narrow. We need to broaden our understanding of what it means to respond to exercise training," Berry said.
Exercise programs for type 2 diabetes patients should track improvements in blood sugar control, body fat and waist size, the researchers suggested.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: UT Southwestern Medical Center, news release, June 17, 2015