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Weight Training Can Reduce Risk of Diabetes, Prolong Life for Diabetics

A pair of new studies published by the Archives of Internal Medicine highlight the benefits of regular exercise in preventing Type 2 diabetes, and even reducing the risk of deaths for those already dealing with the disease.

Dr. Franklin Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Medicine, co-authored one of the studies, which compared the risk of Type 2 diabetes in some 32,000 men. The study recorded whether or not the men either participated in aerobic exercise or weight lifting or were simply sedentary over a period of 18 years, with their status being updated every 2 years as a part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Over the time period, 2,278 of those men developed diabetes.

Research determined that those who exercised had a much lower risk. Those who weight trained on average for half an hour each day had a 34 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not lift at all. Those who added a half-hour of aerobic exercise such as power-walking or running to their weight training regimen cut their risk by a full 59 percent. Even those who worked out less than half an hour a day on average saw a decrease in risk, with a 12 percent drop coming from just an hour per week spent lifting.

“We found that weight training is beneficial for diabetes independent of aerobic exercise. Each of them have independent effects, but the combination of both is most beneficial,” Dr. Hu said. “If someone doesn’t want to do aerobic exercise for various reasons, weight training can be an alternative.”

The second study focused on the effect of exercise on those who already suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Conducted by the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, this study showed that moderately-active men who had been diagnosed with the disease were 38 percent less likely to die of any cause.

“Everyone understands that they should exercise more,” Mitchell Katz, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services told Time magazine. “People always think of it as an individual responsibility. As a diabetic you need to eat right and exercise more, but it ignores the fact that modern society in developed countries has evolved to the point that daily life provides no exercise.”


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