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A 16-week home based program using resistance bands helps older adults with type 2 diabetes.

Most researchers recognize the benefits of aerobic exercise in improving blood sugar in those dealing with type 2 diabetes mellitus (type 2 DM). Exercise has also been found to aid with weight loss and reducing risk for cardiovascular disease in this population. Heart attack and stroke are more common in those with poorly controlled blood sugar. 1

Now new research supports the use of elastic resistance bands (also known as elastic tubes) in older adults, including individuals with type 2 DM. Elastic resistance bands are affordable, simple, portable, and versatile. The bands are available through physical therapists or medical supply stores may also carry them.

This particular study was done to evaluate the impact of a 16-week home-based progressive resistance training program (PRT) with resistance bands on glucose control and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in older adults diagnosed with type 2 DM.

PRT is an anabolic form of exercise. It has the benefit of increasing muscle mass and improving strength, power, and endurance of muscles without really changing peak oxygen consumption. As the user becomes stronger, he or she is “upgraded” to more challenging resistance bands to increase strength.

The small study included 70 subjects with an average age of 62 (and an average number of years with type 2 DM as 5.50). Half were placed in the intervention group and the other half went into a control group. The group receiving intervention underwent 16 weeks of home-based PRT with the use of elastic resistance bands.

Results showed significant changes in HbA1c ( -1.34% point), fasting blood sugar (-1.3 mml/L), and systolic blood pressure (-1.42 mmHg) following 16 weeks of intervention. No real change was observed in lipid profile, diastolic blood pressure, resting heart rate, and ankle-brachial index (a non-invasive measure of peripheral artery disease).

This type of home-based resistance training has the ability to lower blood sugar and improve systolic blood pressure in older adults with type 2 diabetes. No adverse effects were observed in the participants. 2

So, how can you make the results of this study work for you and your clients? Here are a few ideas...

  • Refer patients to physical therapists to develop personal exercise regimes.
  • Suggest exercise programs such as Silver Sneakers for those with or without diabetes.
  • Encourage water aerobics in warmer months or in an indoor pool that follows COVID protocols.
  • Have clients make use of hand weights or a medicine ball while watching TV.
  • Encourage your audience to add exercise to your calendars. Studies show that people are more likely to adhere to a schedule and actually do the work if it's already on the calendar.

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD


  1. DeFronzo, R. A., Ferrannini, E., Groop, L., Henry, R. R., Herman, W. H., Holst, J. J., Hu, F. B., Kahn, C. R., Raz, I., Shulman, G. I., Simonson, D. C., Testa, M. A., Weiss, R. (2015). Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nature Reviews. Disease Primers, 1, 15019
  2. Ooi TC, Mat Ludin AF, Loke SC, et al. A 16-Week Home-Based Progressive Resistance Tube Training Among Older Adults With Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus: Effect on Glycemic Control. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. January 2021.

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