Changes in A1c value, a number that reflects blood sugar concentrations, were noted in groups that did aerobic exercise and weight lifting.

Taking an aerobics class or lifting weights can help lower blood sugar levels in diabetics, a new study from the University of Calgary has found.

The study is published in the Tuesday issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers studied 251 people with Type 2 diabetes in a six-month randomized control trial in Ottawa.

One group engaged only in aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling orjogging, one group did resistance exercise only (weight lifting), another group undertook both aerobic and resistance exercise, anda control group didnot exercise at all.

Changes in A1c value, a number that reflects blood sugar concentrations, were noted.

A1c in people without diabetes is four to six per cent, and an A1c ofseven per centor lower is considered good in people with diabetes.

The combined aerobic and weight training group experienced a 0.97 percentage pointabsolute drop in A1c value compared to the non-exercising group. The aerobic training group experienced a smaller but still significantabsolute drop of about 0.5 percentage pointand the weight training group saw anabsolute drop of about 0.5 percentage pointas well.

"The improvements we found might seem small, but they are clinicallysignificant," said Dr. Ron Sigal, a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and the Julia McFarlane Diabetes Research Centre at theUniversity of Calgary Faculty of Medicine.

A one percentage pointdrop in A1c levels "reduces the risk of a major cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack by 15 to 20 per cent,and blindness, kidney failure, or amputations by 25 to 40 per cent.

"Our study demonstrates that people with Type 2 diabetes who want tomaximize their glucose control and reduce their risk of long-termcomplications should consider a combination of both aerobic andresistance training like weight lifting."

'I felt very sluggish'

Jack Vitalis certainly agrees. Hewas diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than 25 years ago.

"I felt very sluggish and I was always tired," he told CBC News Monday.

Two years ago he found his way to the gym.

"Now I feel so much better.I have a lot more energy," he said.