Strength Training Helps Prevent Diabetes in Women
November is National Diabetes Month and the perfect time to remind ourselves why we should prevent this disease and how to do so. Diabetes, left unmanaged, can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure, and its prevalence is of epidemic proportions globally. Check out these U.S. stats from the 2014 National Diabetes Statistic Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presenting data from 2012:
* Among the U.S. population 11.2 percent (more than 1 in 10) of women over the age of 20 had diabetes.
* 37 percent of all adults over 20 (86 million) had prediabetes.
* The total estimated cost of diabetes, including medical costs, disability, work loss, and premature death was $245 billion.
The good news is that you can prevent and manage this disease starting with regular exercise. We’ve known that aerobic exercise helps prevent diabetes, and that strength-training lowers the risk among men. Now, research shows that resistance training reduces risk of diabetes among women!
Anders Grøntved, PhD and colleagues at the University of Southern Denmark and Harvard School of Public Health examined data for 99,316 women over an 8-year period during their participation in the Nurses’ Health Study and learned the following:
* Women who did 60 to 150 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercise (that’s three or four Curves workouts) a week had a 25 percent lower risk of developing diabetes compared with sedentary women.
* Women who did at least 60 minutes of resistance training a week plus at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity a week had a 66 percent reduced risk of developing diabetes. What qualifies as 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity? Walking for 30 minutes at a 3- to 4-mile-per-hour pace five days a week fits the bill.
How does strength-training reduce your risk of diabetes? Let us count the ways:
1. One of the causes of diabetes is insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone in your body that knocks on the door of your cells and guides glucose (blood sugar) inside. When your cells stop responding to insulin, you are insulin resistant, and sugar builds up in your blood and travels around your body causing trouble. “Engaging in muscle-strengthening or aerobic activity improves and maintains the insulin sensitivity of your body’s tissues,” explains Grøntved.
2. Strength training builds muscle, and because muscle tissue burns glucose even while you are at rest, it is a key contributor to your body’s overall uptake of glucose from your bloodstream adds Grøntved.
3. Finally, obesity is a significant risk factor for diabetes, and resistance training helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
“An important message from our study’s findings,” says Grøntved, “is that for those women who have difficulty in engaging or adhering to aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening activity like resistance training can serve as an alternative protection from type 2 diabetes.”
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