Objective: The objective of this study was to demonstrate improvement in nerve function with moderate exercise in patients with type II diabetic neuropathies.
Research design and methods: Fives subjects with type II diabetes mellitus and distal, predominantly sensory polyneuropathies were studied. The subjects completed an 8-week program of a supervised moderate exercise program (40-75% of maximal 02 uptake reserve) with a subsequent 16-week program of monitored similar exercise. The same experienced electrophysiologist performed the electrodiagnostic studies both before and after the 24-week exercise period. These studies monitored physiological changes (conduction velocities, response amplitudes) in motor and sensory fibers as well as F-wave latencies.
Results: The exercise program produced a documented increase in aerobic exercise capacity. Despite the small number of subjects studied and the relatively short exercise period, there was a statistically significant improvement in nearly all electrophysiological parameters evaluated post exercise including motor conduction velocities and amplitudes, sensory conduction velocities, and F-wave latencies. This improvement included a statistically significant improvement in absolute median motor evoked response amplitudes as well as the recording of sensory nerve action potentials not present prior to exercise. There were no adverse effects from the exercise.
Conclusions: This study supports the hypothesis that exercise can be performed safely in patients with type II diabetic neuropathies and can produce improvement in their nerve function. This study also supports the hypothesis that ischemia may have a meaningful role in the pathogenesis of neuropathies in patients with type II diabetes mellitus.