Regular Weight Training Plus Cardio Significantly Reduce Diabetes Risk

weight training, resistance training, type 2 diabetes, diabetes prevention
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Daily exercise is often one of the healthy lifestyle choices recommended for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Most people first start with a cardio exercise such as walking or swimming. While this is very important for both fitness and reducing health risks, don’t forget to add in some weight training to your exercise program for added benefits.

In fact, a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Southern Denmark find that weight training for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, significantly reduces risk for diabetes even without aerobic exercise.

Obviously, Type 2 diabetes is a major public health concern. It is estimated that 346 million people worldwide (26 million in the United States) have the disease and the numbers are growing. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that diabetes rates will jump to one in ten people by the year 2030.

Another 79 million of us have a condition known as prediabetes – a state of high blood sugar that is higher than it should be. Even slightly high blood glucose levels increase a person’s risk of having heart disease or a stroke.

Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, and Anders Grøntved, visiting researcher in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH and a doctoral student in exercise epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark, examined data from over 32,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study from 1990 to 2008. Information collected included how much time the men spent each week on exercise plus other factors such as television viewing habits, alcohol and coffee intake and other dietary factors, smoking, family history of diabetes, and ethnicity.

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The team found that the men who participate in weight training regularly may be able to reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to 34%. Combine weight training and aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or running, the risk could be further reduced by up to 59%.

While some past studies have suggested that diabetic patients include a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training in their exercise program to lower blood sugar levels, this study is the first to take into consideration the role of weight training on the prevention of diabetes.

"Until now, previous studies have reported that aerobic exercise is of major importance for type 2 diabetes prevention," said Grøntved. "But many people have difficulty engaging in or adhering to aerobic exercise. These new results suggest that weight training, to a large extent, can serve as an alternative to aerobic exercise for type 2 diabetes prevention." However, stresses Dr. Hu, a combination of the two will provide the most protection.

Don’t think you have time for 30 minutes of exercise a day? Do as much as you can. The study found that as little as 60 minutes a week (12 minutes a day, five times a week) lowers risk of developing diabetes by 12%.

Journal Reference: Eric B. Rimm. A Prospective Study of Weight Training and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in MenWeight Training and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2012; : 1 DOI:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3138

Photo Credit: Morguefile.com

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