Pumping Iron Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Study

Findings from an 18 year study conducted by researchers from the Harvard school of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston, U.SA, and the University of Denmark have determined that even small amounts of weight training can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Significantly, the results showed that pumping iron five times a week resulted in a 1/3 reduction from the risk of Type 2, with that percentage rising to 60% when weight training is combined with aerobic exercise.

Lead author of the study, Anders Grontved, visiting researcher at the Department of Nutrition at HSPH and an expert on in exercise epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark said,

“Until now, previous studies have reported that aerobic exercise is of major importance for type 2 diabetes prevention. But many people have difficulty engaging in or adhering to aerobic exercise. These new results suggest that weight training, to a large extent, can serve as an alternative to aerobic exercise for type 2 diabetes prevention.”

Interestingly, the benefits from weight training and aerobic exercise exist independently of each other, meaning a person reduces their risk of diabetes even if they only do one. But the greatest effect comes from a combination of the two.

Published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study’s findings are based on extensive tests carried out on 32, 000 men. Researchers also monitored their lifestyles, alcohol, food intake and family history for 18 years.

Specifically, it was established that men who performed between 1-59 minutes of weight training a week reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 12 % compared to those who didn’t. Percentages rose markedly with the amount of training involved. Between 60-149 minutes of weight training reduced that risk by a 1/4. But 150 minutes led to a 1/3 reduction. Similarly, aerobic exercise resulted in reductions of 7 %, 31% and 52% respectively for the same weight training time periods.

A further study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people already diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes could substantially reduce their risk of early death from ancillary effects of the disease – if they exercised.

Officially called Diabetes mellitus Type 2, the disease is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose and relative insulin deficiency. This is different to Type 1 where complete insulin deficiency exists.

Over the last 50 years rates of diabetes have increased in step with obesity numbers. Obesity is thought to be the primary cause of Type 2 diabetes in people with a genetic disposition to it. 2010 statistics ( worldwide) revealed approximately 285 million people are registered as Type 2, compared to 30 million in 1985.

In the U.S diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages, 8.3 percent of the population.

Classic symptoms before onset of type 2 are: Excessive thirst, frequent urination and constant hunger. In the long-term, complications from high blood sugar include strokes, poor eyesight, heart disease, poor circulation of limbs that can in some cases lead to amputations, and also kidney failure.

There is no word yet on whether the results of this study would significantly alter for women.