Effect of combined exercise training on physical and cognitive function in women with type 2 diabetes

Published:November 17, 2022DOI:
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      One of the consequences of old age is cognitive and physical decline that can cause a wide range of problems in the elderly, and are more pronounced in those with type 2 diabetes (T2D). The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the effect of combined exercise training on blood biomarkers, physical fitness, and cognitive function in elderly women with T2D.

      Design, Participants, and Intervention

      Twenty-one elderly women with T2D were randomly allocated into training (n=12) and control (n=9) groups. The exercise training program was a combination of aerobic, resistance, and balance exercises that were performed three times per week over 12 weeks. In the same period, the control group received no training intervention.


      Blood markers including brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), Irisin, glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), fasting blood sugar (FBS), Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), lower- and upper-body strength, as well as cognitive function were measured in all participants at baseline and after 12 weeks.


      Serum BDNF levels were not significantly different between the exercise and control groups at 12 weeks (p > 0.05). The levels of FBS and Hb1Ac in the exercise group significantly decreased compared to the control group (p < 0.05). CRF, dynamic balance, and upper as well as lower body strength in the exercise group significantly improved compared to the control group (p < 0.05). Irisin levels decreased significantly in the control group but levels did not change significantly in the exercise group. Greater improvements from exercise were observed on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment index compared to the control group (p =0.05), but no other group differences in cognitive function were noted.


      Combined exercise improved some physical fitness and diabetes-related surrogate factors as well as select cognitive functions, but had no significant effect on cognition-related biochemical factors (i.e., BDNF) in women with T2D.


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