Can Lifting Weights Lower Your Risk of Diabetes?

DB Deadlift ChickThere’s something you might not know about type 2 diabetes: anyone can get it. The onset of this form of the disease need not be related to heredity, although instances in your family may raise your risk for developing diabetes. However, you should also know that the condition is not unavoidable, even if you do have a family medical history to contend with.

What is Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes develops when there is too much sugar in your blood, a condition known as hyperglycemia. Normally, your body creates insulin that breaks down sugar so that it can be stored in cells and burned off as energy. But over time, excess fat in the body can reduce levels of insulin being produced and create an insulin resistance in cells.

While the main cause of type 2 diabetes onset is thought to be obesity, the truth is that you can have a slim physique with a high percentage of body fat. The point is that even people who don’t necessarily look like they’ll develop diabetes may be prone to the disorder. And lifting weights can definitely help to lower your risk.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes, in and of itself, is not much fun. The side effects can be sicking and painful, and sometimes require medical treatment.

Common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • fatigue
  • vision problems
  • intense thirst
  • frequent urination
  • discomfort in extremities

Over time the side effects can get much worse:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • blindness
  • kidney failure
  • coma
  • infections
  • amputations
  • and of course, death

These maladies may all result from diabetes, especially if it goes untreated, and experts estimate that complications associated with the disease could take approximately ten years off the life expectancy of sufferers. What’s truly remarkable, however, is that you can work to prevent and even reverse this disease.

Although there may be extenuating circumstances with any given case, most people can make simple life changes that will help them to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Defeating Diabetes with Diet and Exercise

Obviously diet is a major consideration for most people, and cutting back on sugars and certain fats is a must. But what about exercise?

Since losing weight is often a factor, many people institute a regimen that includes frequent cardio. But if you opt to skip weight lifting you could be missing out on some major benefits when it comes to decreasing the risk of diabetes. In case you didn’t know, lifting weights can really help you to shed fat faster.

Many people fear that adding weights to their routine will cause them to gain, but the truth is that weight lifting increases muscle mass, and muscles burn more calories than fat. This means that weight training can actually help you to burn fat faster. And since excess body fat is one of the major contributors to type 2 diabetes, you can see how weight lifting can pay off in the fight against the disease.

Proven Results

In fact, a collaborative study done by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Southern Denmark (published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last August) spent 18 years (from 1990-2008) following a group of 32,000 male subjects to determine the effects that exercise (both aerobic and weight training) had on their health.

The results suggested that lifting weights reduced the risk of diabetes by 12% for those who engaged in weight training for less than an hour each week, by 25% for those who spent 1-2.5 hours per week lifting, and by a whopping 34% for participants that devoted more than 2.5 hours per week to their weight training efforts.

Now that’s something that could reduce your need for life insurance for diabetics. Researchers speculate that women could enjoy similar results (although studies have yet to be done). So if you’re wondering whether adding weight lifting to your exercise regimen could help you lower your body fat, fight genetics, and stave off diabetes, the answer is a resounding “yes”.


Resources:

A Prospective Study of Weight Training and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Men

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