If you’re at risk of diabetes, you should start pumping iron
11/25/2019 // Melissa Smith // Views

People often practice strength training or resistance training exercises to build muscle and achieve their dream figure. But strength training can benefit the body in more ways: A study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggested that this type of exercise can be beneficial for reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

In the study, researchers from Iowa State University found that adults with moderate muscle strength were 32 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. They reached this finding after studying 4,681 people who did not have Type 2 diabetes. To measure the participants’ fitness and muscle strength levels, the researchers asked them to carry out a series of fitness tests, which included leg and bench presses as well as using the treadmill.

During an average follow-up of eight years, the researchers revisited the participants and found that five percent developed Type 2 diabetes. Moderate muscle mass cut the risk for Type 2 diabetes by 32 percent, irrespective of previous fitness levels, smoking, drinking, obesity and high blood pressure.

“Performing even a small amount of resistance training, which is a main contributor to muscular strength, may provide big benefits,” suggested Dr. Angelique Brellenthin, one of the researchers of the study.

The researchers noted that although their findings suggested that moderate strength can be beneficial, they weren’t able to tell exactly how much training people need to do to reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes. They also wrote that one limitation of the study is that the participants were not asked to report their diet, which is one of the most important risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.


Brellenthin recommended bodyweight squats, lunges, pushups, and planks for beginners.

How strength training helps

Strength training helps reduce the risk of diabetes – not by eliminating the need for insulin but providing a way for the body to burn glucose for fuel without producing much more of it. When you use larger muscles during resistance training, you allow glucose to enter muscle cells, where it will be used for fuel, without the need for additional insulin.

“When you’re performing resistance training, you’re tearing muscle fibers apart,” Christel Oerum, a co-founder of Diabetes Strong who lives with Type 1 diabetes, told Healthline.com.

Oerum explained that those muscle fibers have to be rebuilt to become stronger, a process that requires more energy. For this reason, more glucose and calories are burned after you exercise. She also emphasized that exercise itself and the gradual building of healthy muscles provide the greatest benefits.

Strength training also helps protect against diabetes by increasing the ability of your muscles to store glucose. This increases with your strength, which helps your body regulate blood sugar levels better. In addition, your body’s fat-to-muscle ratio declines with strength training. As a result, the amount of insulin you need in your body to help store energy in fat cells also decreases.

You also don’t have to worry about getting too bulky. You only need to get your muscles stronger and not bigger. Getting bulk muscles also does not come too quickly as it requires significant intention, well-structured training programs, and proper nutrition.

The American Diabetes Association suggests the following guidelines for a strength training routine:

  • Perform strength training two or three days each week, with at least a day off between session to let muscles rest and rebuild.
  • Do at least eight to 10 weight exercises per session to work all the main muscle groups of the upper and lower body.
  • Your workout should last 20 to 60 minutes per session.

Researchers continue to find ways to fight diabetes as the number of people with this condition continues to increase. Learn more on how to protect yourself against this chronic condition at PreventDiabetes.news.

Sources include:




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