The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing worldwide, yet its primary prevention and treatment are still a challenge. The objectives of this review are to assess the effects of exercise on the prevention of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals and on glycaemic control in type 2 diabetic patients. Considering the available reports, there is unequivocal and strong evidence that physical exercise can prevent or delay progression to type 2 diabetes in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. Also, lifestyle interventions, including diet and physical exercise, can result in a reduction of around 50% in diabetes incidence that persists even after the individual lifestyle counselling has stopped. In addition, short-term randomized studies have confirmed that physical training based on endurance and/or resistance exercises can also improve blood glucose control in type 2 diabetics with a mean glycated haemoglobin decrease of 0.6%. Thus, physical exercise should be part of any therapeutic strategy to slow the development of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals and to improve glucose control in type 2 diabetes.
Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.