Exercise Helps Diabetes Control, Wards off Colds

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Two new studies published this month have shown that regular exercise can not only help people with diabetes improve their blood glucose control, but can also help protect people from developing colds.

First, a review of 27 studies published in the November issue of the journal Diabetes Care looked at how different types of exercise training affected blood glucose control in people with Type 2 diabetes. The studies looked at a total of 1,003 people (average age 55) who had participated in aerobic exercise (such as walking or cycling), resistance training (such as lifting weights), or combined training. The review found that any type of exercise training that lasted for 12 weeks or more lowered HbA1c levels (a measure of blood glucose control over time) by an average of 0.8%. In general, the differences in outcome resulting from different types of exercise were trivial, leading the researchers to conclude that all forms of exercise can benefit diabetes control.

Another study, published in the November issue of The American Journal of Medicine, looked at the effect of regular exercise on colds and other upper respiratory infections. Researchers divided 115 overweight and obese, postmenopausal women (average age 61) who had not been exercising regularly into two groups. One group was instructed to engage in moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) for 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for one year. The control group, meanwhile, participated only in a weekly 45-minute stretching session. Both groups kept records of their exercise habits and any symptoms of colds or other upper respiratory infections.

The researchers found that the women who exercised regularly reported significantly fewer colds over the course of the year than did those in the control group. In fact, over the final three months of the study, the control group experienced three times as many colds as the exercise group. Overall, 48% of the women in the control group had at least one cold during the year, while only 30% of the women in the exercise group had at least one cold.

Both studies have helped confirm the health benefits of regular, moderate exercise. For more information about getting started with an exercise program, including what precautions you should take, check out our article Physical Activity: The Magic of Movement.

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