Acta Diabetologica

, Volume 54, Issue 11, pp 983–991 | Cite as

Physical activity and change in fasting glucose and HbA1c: a quantitative meta-analysis of randomized trials

  • Mathieu Boniol
  • Miruna DragomirEmail author
  • Philippe Autier
  • Peter Boyle
Original Article



A systematic review was conducted of randomized trials which evaluated the impact of physical activity on the change in fasting glucose and HbA1c.


A literature search was conducted in PubMed until December 2015. Studies reporting glucose or HbA1c at baseline and at the end of study were included, and the change and its variance were estimated from studies with complete data. Mixed-effect random models were used to estimate the change of fasting glucose (mg/dl) and HbA1c (%) per additional minutes of physical activity per week.


A total of 125 studies were included in the meta-analysis. Based on 105 studies, an increase of 100 min in physical activity per week was associated with an average change of −2.75 mg/dl of fasting glucose (95% CI −3.96; −1.55), although there was a high degree of heterogeneity (83.5%). When restricting the analysis on type 2 diabetes and prediabetes subjects (56 studies), the average change in fasting glucose was −4.71 mg/dl (95% CI −7.42; −2.01). For HbA1c, among 76 studies included, an increase of 100 min in physical activity per week was associated with an average change of −0.14% of HbA1c (95% CI −0.18; −0.09) with heterogeneity (73%). A large degree of publication bias was identified (Egger test p < 0.001). When restricting the analysis on type 2 diabetes and prediabetes subjects (60 studies), the average change in HbA1c was −0.16% (95% CI −0.21; −0.11).


This analysis demonstrates that moderate increases in physical activity are associated with significant reductions in both fasting glucose and HbA1c.


Diabetes Physical activity Exercise Fasting glucose Glycated hemoglobin Meta-analysis 



Exercise and Sports Science Australia


Physical activity


Type 1 diabetes mellitus


Type 2 diabetes mellitus


Weighted mean difference



The authors thank Magali Boniol, International Prevention Research Institute, for help with data extraction verifications.


This work was funded by the International Prevention Research Institute.

Author contributions

MB designed the study, MD did the literature search and data collection, and MB and MD analyzed the data. All authors interpreted the results, edited and revised the manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by the any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants in this study.

Supplementary material

592_2017_1037_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1723 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia S.r.l. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Strathclyde Institute of Global Public Health at iPRIEspace Européen d’EcullyEcully Ouest LyonFrance
  2. 2.International Prevention Research InstituteLyonFrance

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