Hit the Gym to Prevent Diabetes

Aerobic exercise has always been recommended at the best type of exercise to prevent and manage a multitude of diseases but a recent study revealed that weight training can significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Combining both weight training and aerobic exercise even more benefit.

“We found that in the group that did fairly large amounts of both, there was about a 60 percent reduced risk of diabetes, which is huge,” said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and an author of the study. “It’s clear that the best thing is to get a combination of the two. But some people really can’t get aerobic exercise in their life, and we found that even a small amount of resistance exercise can make a difference.”

Dr. Willett and his colleagues examined the data collected on 32,000 men who participated in the 18-year long Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. During the 18-years, 2, 278 men developed type 2 diabetes. After establishing controls for numerous values, the researchers discovered that participating in aerobic exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes a week reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 52 percent. engaging in the same amount of weight training  realized a 34 percent lower risk, independent of any aerobic exercise. Doing both yielded the greatest reduction in risk.

Muscle Improves Insulin Sensitivity

The major factor in type 2 diabetes is that a resistance to insulin develops. That means that the sugar circulating in the blood does not respond, or bind, to the insulin the body produces. Instead, the sugar builds up in the blood, leading to high blood sugar.

Dr. Willett said the mechanism behind weight training’s beneficial effect on diabetes most likely stems from its effect on insulin receptors. Resistance training builds muscle mass, a process that can take weeks. But it also improves the sensitivity of insulin receptors, so that muscle cells can absorb their fuel, glucose, more easily. This process results almost immediately from doing resistance exercise, and the effect can last for days.

“You’re essentially allowing the fuel to pass into the muscles more quickly, which is exactly what you need to happen if you’re putting those muscles to use,” Dr. Willett said.

The study found the largest effect among men doing the most resistance training, but even 10 minutes a day of resistance work — whether at the gym or at home doing push-ups or using resistance bands — is enough to produce a benefit, he added. Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/

While the study involved only men, predominantly white, Dr. Willett said he was “virtually sure” the results were universally applicable.

Just as aerobic exercise benefits everyone, he said, weight training should as well. “Muscle physiology is pretty similar across ethnic groups and gender,” he said. “There may be some subtle variations, but the basic biology is similar.”

So, for maximum prevention of type 2 diabetes, aim for two and a half hours a week of a combination of weight training plus aerobic exercise.