Weight Training Reduces Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Your doctor may have told you to do cardio to help prevent type 2 diabetes. New research shows resistance training has a huge impact on lowering the risk of the disease.

According to a new published study, men regularly participate in weight training or resistance training may be able to lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University performed the study that is published in the first online issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study consisted of data on 32,002 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1990 to 2008. This data included questionnaires about how much weight training and exercise they were performing each week and was filled out by the participants every two years. During the study period, 2,278 of the men were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. After an adjustment of influencing factors such as physical activity and diet, among other things, the researchers discovered a “dose-response” between weight training and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.1

Effect of weight training:

The men who completed up to 59 minutes of weight training per week had a 12% reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. When the time increased to between 60 to 149 minutes of training, the risk was reduced by 25%, and reduced even further, by 34%, when doing at least 150 minutes of weight training per week.

Effect of aerobic training:

The relationship was very similar with aerobic exercise. Up to 59 minutes of aerobic exercise reduced the risk for type 2 diabetes by 7%, and doing 60 to 149 minutes reduced the risk by 31%. Doing at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise reduced the risk by 52%.2

Researchers also found that weight training in conjunction with aerobic exercise had the greatest effect: men who did more than 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, and also at least 150 minutes of weight training every week had a 59% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.3

It is known that there is a strong correlation between aerobic exercise and reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. However, the correlation with weight training was vague. Recent trials have shown that resistance training can improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes, but this is the first study to show that weight training alone may actually prevent type 2 diabetes. This study proved that a solid regimen of both aerobic exercise and weight training can significantly reduce the risk of developing the disease.

Senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, said: “This study provides clear evidence that weight training has beneficial effects on diabetes risk over and above aerobic exercise. To achieve the best results for diabetes prevention, resistance training can be incorporated with aerobic exercise.”4

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