Is Weight Lifting Beneficial for Diabetics?
One third of Americans will become diabetic because they eat too much and exercise too little. A study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (July 2006) shows that lifting weights can help to prevent and to treat diabetes. Here’s why…
Extra fat prevents your body from responding normally to insulin. Before insulin can do its job of driving sugar from the bloodstream into your cells, it must first bind with special receptors on cell membranes called insulin receptors. Having extra fat in cells turns these receptors inward, making it far more difficult for insulin to attach to the receptors. This prevents insulin from doing its job of lowering blood sugar levels, even though your body is making plenty of insulin. The result is that sugar has no place to go… the cells are signaling “we are full” by closing the insulin receptors and so sugar continues to circulate in the bloodstream until the liver can convert the sugar into fats for storage.
In one study, adolescent boys were given a program of lifting heavy weights twice a week. After only 16 weeks, their muscles were larger and they lost fat. Sugar tolerance tests showed that the ability of their bodies to clear a load of sugar from their blood streams improved dramatically. This means that a regular weight lifting program decreases insulin resistance and thus reduces risk for becoming diabetic.
In another study from Harvard University researchers found that those who exercised had the lowest risk. The study followed 32,000 men for 18 years. Men who weight trained for a half-hour a day (2.5 hours a week) had a 34% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than men who never hit the weight room. Those who combined weight lifting with a half-hour of aerobic activity each day, exercise including brisk walking and running, cut their risk by 59%, compared with sedentary men. Maybe it’s time to dust off the iron and start lifting it.
1. Goran M. et al Effects of Resistance Training on Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight Latino Adolescent Males, Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, July 2006
2. Archives of Internal Medicine, news release, Aug. 6, 2012; Harvard School of Public Health, news release, Aug. 6, 2012