Pumping Iron to Prevent Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes risk reduced through weight training and aerobic exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Exercise is a crucial part of preventing diabetes. Generally, people are encouraged to do aerobic exercise. But can weight training help too?

People who regularly lift weights may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

People who regularly engage in both weight lifting and aerobic exercise (e.g. running, swimming or biking) may have an even lower risk of diabetes.

"Exercise to prevent diabetes."

It is a widely shared view that aerobic exercise lowers the odds of developing diabetes. However, according to Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues, "The role of weight training in the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes is largely unknown."

So, the researchers set out to study the effects of weight training on diabetes risk.

They found a dose-response relationship between increasing amounts of exercise and decreasing diabetes risk. That is, as people spent more time lifting weights or doing aerobic exercise, their risk of diabetes decreased.

People who spent at least 150 minutes per week lifting weights had a 34 percent lower risk of diabetes. Spending at least 150 minutes per week on aerobic exercise lowered the risk of diabetes by 52 percent.

Men who spent at least 150 minutes per week on both weight training and aerobic exercise had a 59 percent decreased risk of diabetes.

According to the Dr. Hu and colleagues, this study showed that weight training lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, regardless of whether people engage in aerobic exercise.

Weight training reduced the risk of diabetes almost as much as aerobic exercise, the authors said.

"These results support that weight training is a valuable alternative for individuals who have difficulty adhering to aerobic exercise, and adding weight training to aerobic exercise seems to give further protection from type 2 diabetes," the authors said.

"Further research should examine the effect of duration, type, and intensity of weight training on type 2 diabetes risk in greater detail," they concluded.

The study, which included 32,002 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The research was published in the August issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Review Date: 
August 14, 2012
Last Updated:
August 16, 2012