Weight Training In Men Lowers Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
August 7, 2012

Weight Training In Men Lowers Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

New research has found that weight training is linked with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. And in the study, consisting of more than 32,000 men, researchers found those who engaged in weight training and aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week had the greatest reduction in risk.

It has already been long-known that regular exercise can prevent type 2 diabetes. But the latest research, published in the online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine, touches on one area -- weight training -- that has gone largely unstudied, according to the researchers.

“We all know that aerobic exercise is beneficial for diabetes - many studies have looked at that - but no studies have looked at weight training,” study coauthor Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, told Reuters Health. “This study suggests weight training is important for diabetes, and probably as important as aerobic training.”

Lead author Anders Grøntved, MPH, M.Sc., also of Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues noted that it is important to determine whether increased physical activity can produce similar beneficial effects in the high-risk population. While past studies suggested higher PA levels could reduce cardio-vascular disease and mortality rates, conclusive evidence on the effect on type 2 diabetes has been lacking.

For the study, Grøntved, Hu and colleagues examined the association of weight training with the risk of type 2 diabetes in 32,002 men observed every two years for 18 years through the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The study lasted from 1990 to 2008.

In men who did cardio exercise, their risk of developing the blood sugar disorder was only half that of men who did no cardio working out. And those who weight trained for 150 minutes or more per week had a risk reduction of a third compared to those who never lifted weights -- independently of whether or not they did aerobic exercise.

"These new results suggest that weight training, to a large extent, can serve as an alternative to aerobic exercise for type 2 diabetes prevention," Grøntved said in a press release.

However, while weight training increases muscle mass and can reduce abdominal obesity, it tends not to cut overall body mass, according to Hu.

Hu acknowledges that the results do not prove that working out wards off diabetes, because many men who stay fit may also be healthier in other ways. But they did their best to account for potential differences, including age, smoking and diet.

However, Hu noted, “the benefits of weight training are real.” he added that “any type of exercise is beneficial for diabetes prevention but weight training can be incorporated with aerobic exercise to get the best results.” Along with an appropriate diet, exercise is also important for people who already have diabetes and can help control high blood sugar, he said.

The Harvard study, which included participation by researchers at the University of Southern Denmark, reported that nearly 2,300 men developed the blood sugar disease during the course of the study.

The authors note the results of the study may not be generalized to women and other ethnic or racial groups of men because the study comprised only mostly white male health professionals. The authors conclude that further research is needed to examine the effect of “duration, type and intensity of weight training” on type 2 diabetes in greater detail.