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Moderate Exercise May be Sufficient to Improve Glucose Control in Pre-Diabetics

A recent study suggests that adopting only one healthy lifestyle factor, walking briskly regularly, may be as effective as adopting three (calorie cutting, low diet, and increased exercise) for improving glucose control in people with pre-diabetes.

Participants in the study included 150 people who were determined to have pre-diabetes based on elevated fasting glucose levels. The participants were separated into four groups. The first group underwent an intervention based on the Diabetes Prevention Program, which has a goal of a 7% reduction in body weight over a 6-month period. It includes three different lifestyle changes: cutting calories, eating a low-fat diet, and exercising. Participants in this group made the requisite diet changes and also performed moderate-intensity exercise that was equivalent to 7.5 miles of brisk walking weekly.

The rest of the participants were separated into three exercise-only groups: low-amount at moderate intensity, equal to walking briskly for 7.5 miles per week; high-amount at moderate intensity, equal to walking briskly for 11.5 miles per week; and high-amount at vigorous intensity, equal to jogging for 11.5 miles per week.

At the conclusion of the study, the Diabetes Prevention Program group had a 9% improvement in oral glucose tolerance, which was the greatest improvement of all the groups. The moderate-intensity, 11.5 mile group came in a close second with a 7% improvement on average.  The moderate-intensity, 7.5. mile group, had a 5% improvement on average. The least improvement was seen in the vigorous-intensity, 11.5 mile group, which had only a 2% average improvement.

The researchers noted that that it can be hard to get patients with pre-diabetes to adopt three lifestyle changes all at once, as is required by the Diabetes Prevention Program. It may be easier to get them to adopt the moderate-intensity exercise only, making that intervention possibly more effective that the Diabetes Prevention Program.

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