Exercise of course is the best health advice, and here we get into some specifics. “Regular” weight training was defined as, say, 30 minutes five days a week. And those who combine weight training and aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or running, may be able to reduce their risk by up to 60%.
This is the first study to examine the role of weight training in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. Because weight training appears to confer significant benefits independent of aerobic exercise, it can be a valuable alternative for people who have trouble jogging or cycling or what-have-you. Aerobic exercise is good for disease prevention, but lifting weights has its own, independent, value.
Type 2 diabetes is a major public health concern that afflicts about 346 million people worldwide. By 2030, this number is expected to double.
The researchers tracked 32,000 men from the “Health Professionals Follow-up Study” from 1990 to 2008. They gleaned exercise information from questionnaires every two years. Researchers adjusted for other types of physical activity, as well as risk factors and other things that affect diabetes. Of these men, 2,278 became diabetic.
The findings showed that even a modest amount of weight training may help reduce your type 2 diabetes risk. Some men lifted weights up to an hour a week; some for between 60 and 149 minutes, and some for at least 150 minutes. The corresponding reduced risks for diabetes were: 12%; 25%; and 34% (compared to no weight training). Aerobic exercise had significant benefits as well — seven percent, 31%, and 52%, respectively.
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And as you might expect, the combination of weight training and aerobic exercise led to the best benefits. Men who did 150 minutes of aerobics and 150 minutes of weight training each week had a 60% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers believe this is clear evidence that lifting weights does much more than hone your muscles. The idea behind the diabetes risk is believed to come through increased muscle mass and improved insulin sensitivity. “To achieve the best results for diabetes prevention, resistance training can be incorporated with aerobic exercise,” the researchers write.