BACKGROUND: This study aimed to assess the efficacy of an intensive exercise intervention strategy in promoting physical activity (PA) and improving hemoglobin A(1c)(HbA(1c)) level and other modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
METHODS: Of 691 eligible sedentary patients with T2DM and the metabolic syndrome, 606 were enrolled in 22 outpatient diabetes clinics across Italy and randomized by center, age, and diabetes treatment to twice-a-week supervised aerobic and resistance training plus structured exercise counseling (exercise group) vs counseling alone (control group) for 12 months. End points included HbA(1c) level (primary) and other cardiovascular risk factors and coronary heart disease risk scores (secondary).
RESULTS: The mean (SD) volume of PA (metabolic equivalent hours per week) was significantly higher (P < .001) in the exercise (total PA [nonsupervised conditioning PA + supervised PA], 20.0 [0.9], and nonsupervised, 12.4 [7.4]) vs control (10.0 [8.7]) group. Compared with the control group, supervised exercise produced significant improvements (mean difference [95% confidence interval]) in physical fitness; HbA(1c) level (-0.30% [-0.49% to -0.10%]; P < .001); systolic (-4.2 mm Hg [-6.9 to -1.6 mm Hg]; P = .002) and diastolic (-1.7 mm Hg [-3.3 to -1.1 mm Hg]; P = .03) blood pressure; high-density lipoprotein (3.7 mg/dL [2.2 to 5.3 mg/dL]; P < .001) and low-density lipoprotein (-9.6 mg/dL [-15.9 to -3.3 mg/dL]; P = .003) cholesterol level; waist circumference (-3.6 cm [-4.4 to -2.9 cm]; P < .001); body mass index; insulin resistance; inflammation; and risk scores. These parameters improved only marginally in controls.
CONCLUSIONS: This exercise intervention strategy was effective in promoting PA and improving HbA(1c) and cardiovascular risk profile. Conversely, counseling alone, though successful in achieving the currently recommended amount of activity, was of limited efficacy on cardiovascular risk factors, suggesting the need for a larger volume of PA in these high-risk subjects. Trial Registration isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN04252749.