Aquatic exercise for adults with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis

Jordan L. Rees, Steven T. Johnson, Normand G. Boulé

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Aims: The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to examine the effects of aquatic exercise (AquaEx) on indicators of glycemic control (i.e., glycated hemoglobin [A1c] and fasting plasma glucose) in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). It was hypothesized that AquaEx would improve glycemic control to a similar extent as land-based exercise (LandEx), but to a greater extent than non-exercise control (Ctrl). Methods: A literature search was completed in February 2017 for studies examining AquaEx training in adults with T2DM. Assessment of glycemic control was necessary for inclusion, while secondary outcomes such as quality of life and cardiometabolic risk factors (i.e., blood pressure, triglycerides and total cholesterol) were considered, but not required for inclusion. Outcomes were measured before and after at least 8 weeks of AquaEx, and data were analyzed using weighted mean differences (WMDs) and fixed effect models, when appropriate. Results: Nine trials including 222 participants were identified. Three trials compared AquaEx to LandEx, two compared AquaEx to Crtl, and four had a pre-/post-design without a comparison group. Results indicate no difference in A1c between LandEx and AquaEx (WMD = −0.02%, 95% confidence interval = [−0.71, 0.66]). Post-intervention A1c was lower in AquaEx when compared to Crtl (WMD = −0.96%, [−1.87, −0.05]). Post-AquaEx A1c was lower compared to baseline (WMD = −0.48%, [−0.66, −0.30]). Conclusions: A1c can be reduced after eight–twelve weeks of AquaEx. However, at this time few studies have examined whether changes in A1c are different from LandEx or Crtl.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)895-904
    Number of pages10
    JournalActa Diabetologica
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct. 2017


    • Aquatic exercise
    • Glycated hemoglobin
    • Swimming
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus


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