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Aerobics and Weights Good for Seniors with Diabetes

A University of Calgary diabetes specialist has found that combining aerobics and weight training is twice as good for those with Type 2 Diabetes.

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Exercise can do so much in helping seniors manage health conditions such as diabetes. One study reveals the rewards of aerobic and weight resistance. And don't discount the benefits of companionship in motivating older adults.

Q. As an active senior with Type 2 diabetes, I'm always looking for ways to manage my disease, which is a challenge since my wife died. Is there any new research out on this topic?

A University of Calgary diabetes specialist has found that combining aerobics and weight training is twice as good for those with Type 2 Diabetes. University of Calgary endocrinologist Dr. Ron Sigal and colleagues from the University of Ottawa studied a total of 251 people with Type 2 diabetes as part of a six-month randomized control trial in Ottawa.1

Subjects were divided into groups that did aerobic exercise only (walking, cycling or jogging), resistance exercise only (weight lifting), both aerobic and resistance exercise, and a control group that did not exercise. Each participant was evaluated on changes in A1c value, a number that reflects blood sugar concentrations over the previous two or three months.

The combined aerobic and weight training group experienced a 0.97 percent absolute drop in A1c value compared with the non-exercising group. The aerobic training group experienced a smaller but still significant absolute drop of about 0.5 percent and the weight training group saw an absolute drop of about 0.5 percent as well.

"The improvements we found might seem small, but they are clinically significant," said Sigal of these results, which were published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. "A one-percent drop in A1c levels reduces the risk of a major cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack by 15 to 20 percent and blindness, kidney failure, or amputations by 25 to 40 percent. People with diabetes fight an uphill battle trying to control their blood sugar, so any help we can offer is vital."

So there you have it. Why not contact your doctor about whether you are a candidate for an aerobics and weight-training program. Your physician also can steer you to a local YMCA or fitness club.

If you need help getting motivated, why not consider a companion. Home Instead® hires CAREGiversSM – many of whom are seniors themselves – to assist older adults with transportation needs and other non-medical companionship tasks. Some CAREGivers even exercise with their clients. A little motivation can go a long way toward a healthier lifestyle.

1. Online at

Last revised: March 14, 2011

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