It's no surprise that exercise can help beat diabetes--but don't just hop on a treadmill and call it a day.

A new study finds that how you exercise is just as important as the exercise itself--and the right combination of resistance training and aerobic workouts can unlock two key benefits: lower blood sugar levels, and fewer meds.

Researchers randomly assigned 221 previously sedentary volunteers to one of three workout programs for 12 weeks:

  • Resistance training for three days a week, consisting of two sets of abdominal crunches and back extensions, two sets of four upper-body exercises, and three sets of three leg exercises with weight machines.
  • Aerobic exercise consisting of 150 minutes a week of moderate walking on a treadmill.
  • Two days of resistance exercises per week along with a little less of that moderate treadmill walking.

Another 41 volunteers served as a control group and didn't exercise at all.

At the start of the program, the patients had an average HbA1C (glycated hemoglobin) reading of 7.7 percent.

Twelve weeks later, the combo group lowered those levels by 0.34 percent compared to the control group--the only change in the study considered to be statistically significant.

For the record, though, the aerobics group saw a dip of 0.24 percent, and the resistance trainers dropped by 0.16 percent when compared to the control group.

The ones who participated in the combination workouts were also the only ones to lose weight.

But they also lost something else: Meds. Those who did both forms of exercise needed less of their drugs to control the disease, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But while exercise is an important first step, it won't beat diabetes on its own.

The real answer starts with what you eat. Focus on the low-carb foods that can keep your blood-sugar levels down, and -- along with a few key supplements and that right combination of exercise -- you might not just reduce your need for meds.

You could eliminate them completely.