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Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2019 Feb;35(2):e3099. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.3099. Epub 2018 Dec 7.

Aerobic exercise training may improve nerve function in type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes: A systematic review.

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Musculoskeletal Health Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia.
Physiotherapy Department, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney Local Health District, Camperdown, NSW, Australia.
Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, South Western Sydney Local Health District, Liverpool, NSW, Australia.
Physical Activity, Lifestyle, Ageing & Wellness Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia.
Discovery and Translation, Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia.


Diabetic neuropathy is a major complication of type 2 diabetes. Emerging evidence also suggests that people with pre-diabetes may develop similar symptoms related to nerve dysfunction. While regular exercise provides many benefits to patients with diabetes, whether exercise influences nerve function has not been established. As such, the aim of this systematic review was to evaluate current evidence regarding the effect of exercise training on the progression and development of diabetic neuropathy. A systematic search of MEDLINE (Ovid), CINAHL, AMED, PEDro, the Cochrane Library, Embase, and Scopus databases identified a total of 12 studies that were eligible for inclusion in this systematic review. Quality rating and data extraction were performed by two independent reviewers. The 12 included studies examined people with pre-diabetes (n = 1) and with type 2 diabetes (n = 11). There was heterogeneity of study quality and exercise type and dosage among these studies. Eleven studies reported that exercise training had a positive influence on nerve function or neuropathy-related symptoms; and only one study reported mild adverse events. Evidence from this systematic review suggests aerobic exercise training may positively influence nerve function among people with type 2 diabetes, with minimal risk of adverse events. Further research will be required to determine the optimal dosage of exercise training and the effect on nerve function in pre-diabetes and in women with previous gestational diabetes. This review is registered on PROSPERO (CRD42018088182).


diabetic peripheral neuropathy; exercise therapy; nerve function; type 2 diabetes mellitus

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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