Diabetes Risk Lower In Women Who Pump It Up Regularly
January 16, 2014

Weight Training And Yoga Lower Type-2 Diabetes Risk In Women

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Middle-aged and older women who lift weights or do yoga for just 30 minutes a day can cut their risk of type-2 diabetes (T2D) by as much as 40 percent, while women who work out as little as one hour per week reduce their risk by 13 percent, according to a study published January 15 in the journal PLOS Medicine.

The study also found that women who engage in both muscle conditioning and cardio workouts gain a “substantial reduction” in T2D compared to women who do not work out.

Doctors have known for some time that regular aerobic exercise can help prevent T2D. The researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Southern Denmark said they wanted to investigate the effect of resistance exercise like weight lifting and yoga on T2D because previous studies have shown that glycemic levels improve with these activities.

“It is well-established that regular aerobic exercise – physical activity in which the breathing and heart rate increase noticeably such as jogging, brisk walking, and swimming – lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

“However, although studies have shown that muscle-strengthening activity improves glycemic control in people who already have diabetes, it is unclear whether this form of exercise prevents diabetes.”

The study tracked the health of 100,000 US nurses who were free of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases at the beginning of the study. Over the course of the eight-year study, 3,491 of those women developed Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that the participants who reported the highest levels of muscle-strengthening activities had the highest reduction of T2D risk, with those who were overweight or obese receiving the most benefits

The scientists also looked at the effects of weekly time spent on resistance exercise, lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and found that women who did at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercises per week and one hour of muscle-strengthening exercises were 33 percent less likely to develop the disease compared to women who did not work out.

These diabetes-preventive benefits remained even after the researchers factored in aerobic activity and only focused on muscle conditioning exercises and resistance activities, the researchers said.

The findings suggest that “engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (resistance exercise, yoga, stretching, toning) is associated with a lower risk of T2D,” the researchers wrote in their report.

Furthermore, “engagement in both aerobic MVPA and muscle-strengthening type activity is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of T2D in middle-aged and older women.”

The researchers noted that the women with the greatest levels of fitness were also the ones who had the healthiest diets, and who weighed the least. These participants were also less likely to have a family history of diabetes.

More than 370 million people worldwide have diabetes mellitus, a disorder characterized by poor glycemic control and often dangerously high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by the hormone insulin, which is released by the pancreas. In people with T2D, the most common form of the disease, blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing excess sugar from the blood become less responsive to insulin.

T2D can often initially be controlled with diet, exercise and medication. However, as the disease progresses the pancreatic beta cells that make insulin become impaired, and patients may eventually need insulin injections.

Long-term complications of diabetes include an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and a shortened life expectancy of about 10 years compared with people without diabetes.