Neuromuscular electrical stimulation exercise: a potential alternative to conventional exercise in the management of type 2 diabetes

Oonagh M Giggins, Louis Crowe, Garrett F Coughlan, Brian Caulfield


Aims: Exercise is fundamental in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, many individuals face barriers to exercise. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is an alternative to conventional exercise that may prove beneficial in the treatment of T2D. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of an 8-week NMES exercise programme in a T2D population.

Methods: A repeated measures one-group cohort intervention study was conducted. Thirteen T2D participants (age 52.0±6.9 years, height 1.79±0.06 m, weight 104.5±11.9 kg, BMI 32.8±4.3 kg/m2) underwent an 8-week NMES intervention. Venous blood markers, body composition, blood pressure, quadriceps strength and predicted maximal oxygen consumption were assessed at baseline and after the 8-week intervention.

Results: Significant improvements in fasting plasma glucose, percentage body fat and peak isometric quadriceps torque were noted following the intervention (p<0.05).

Conclusions: The principal findings of this study were that NMES can improve body composition, muscle strength and glycaemic control in T2D participants. NMES may therefore provide an alternative to those individuals with T2D who have barriers to exercise participation. Further randomised controlled trials with larger participant numbers are required to investigate this further.


neuromuscular electrical stimulation, exercise, type 2 diabetes, glycaemic control

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