manage diabetes

Manage Diabetes Naturally—Get Toned, Too—with Strength Training

Researchers find strong evidence that resistance training can help control risk factors for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

By Leah Zerbe


Manage Diabetes Naturally—Get Toned, Too—with Strength Training

New study: Resistance training reduces diabetes risk factors and melts belly fat.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration holding meetings on whether or not to ban the use of widely used diabetes drug Avandia, due to elevated risk of heart attacks and other harmful side effects, it's more important than ever to learn about all the options that help you manage diabetes. And while it's commonly advised that people with diabetes avoid refined sugars and exercise to help control the disease, a new study published in the journal Sports Medicine this month offers strong evidence that resistance training could also be a valuable part of any diabetes-beating plan.

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THE DETAILS: Austrian researchers looked at 13 high-quality trials investigating the relationship between resistance training and impaired glucose tolerance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. They also looked at studies involving metabolic syndrome, the name for a group of risk factors linked to overweight and obesity that increase your risk of having heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. In the analysis, researchers found that resistance training lowered systolic blood pressure by six points, and also significantly reduced body fat mass and lowered blood sugar readings. They also found good evidence that resistance training lowers dangerous belly fat, independent of dietary changes.

WHAT IT MEANS: Metabolic syndrome is a multifaceted issue, but at the heart of the problem is often excess fat around the midsection, which can lead to insulin resistance and other problems, including diabetes. As we age, we naturally experience a loss in muscle mass, which in turn slows down our fat-burning metabolism machine. Physical inactivity can do the same thing, and that, coupled with a diet high in saturated fats and empty calories, has created a type 2 diabetes crisis in this country, even in younger people. Resistance training is emerging as a solution to curbing risk factors associated with diabetes, stroke, and heart attacks. And unlike drugs, the side effects are just a little soreness the day after. But hey, it's a good kind of hurt.

Published on: July 13, 2010
Updated on: July 15, 2010

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