Underwater Treadmill Training With Adults Who Have Type 2 Diabetes

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Conners, Ryan Thomas
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Middle Tennessee State University
This dissertation consisted of two studies designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an underwater treadmill (UT) training program in improving the health and fitness of adults with type 2 diabetes. The aim of the first study was to determine if an UT walking program would improve glycemic control and health-related fitness in 7 adults (mean age = 55 years). Participants completed 8 weeks of training (3 days a week). Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) decreased an average of 0.7% and body mass (BM), body fat percentage (BF%), and waist circumference (WC) significantly decreased. In addition, resting heart rate (RHR) decreased, estimated maximal aerobic capacity increased, and peak torque of both the hamstrings and quadriceps muscles improved. These preliminary findings indicated that participating in UT training is a safe and effective exercise modality for controlling blood glucose and improving body composition, cardiorespiratory function, and leg strength in adults with type 2 diabetes.
In the second study, 26 adults (mean age = 58 years) completed a 12 week UT walking program within a randomized cross-over design. Following training, there was a significant decrease in HbA1c of 0.8%. There were also significant improvements in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), triglycerides (TG), and high-density lipoprotein to triglyceride ratio (HDL/TG) values compared to baseline levels. Body composition and cardiovascular measures also improved following UT training, as indicated by decreases in BM, BF%, WC, RHR, resting blood pressures (systolic and diastolic), and an increase in distance walked during the 6-minute walk for distance test. Leg strength in both the quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups were improved following UT training in addition to daily average caloric expenditure. The comprehensive improvements observed, coupled with a lack of adverse and hypoglycemic events, demonstrate that UT walking is an effective and safe modality for improving metabolic and cardiovascular health in adults with type 2 diabetes.
Aquatic Exercise, Glycemic control, Type 2 Diabetes, Underwater Treadmill, Walking