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Weight Training Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP

A 2012 study shows that men who perform weight training for a total of 150 minutes per week, on average, reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by 34%. Researchers collected data on 32,002 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study from 1990-2008. During that time, there were 2,278 new cases of type 2 diabetes during 508,332 person-years of follow-up.

This is very interesting, as most of the time we think of aerobic (endurance) exercise as an important intervention to prevent and treat diabetes. The study by A Grontved and fellow researchers suggests that the addition of weight training to a healthy diet and aerobic plan may offer additional protection against the development of type 2 diabetes. In fact, that is exactly what their study showed. In their evaluation they noted that men performing at 150 minutes per day, on average, of aerobic exercise experienced a 52% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Men who performed weight training and aerobic exercise, at the above noted threshold levels, showed the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to those engaged in only aerobic, or only weight training programs.

Weight training may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to build lean mass. More lean mass means that muscle tissue will extract more glucose from the bloodstream to keep itself alive from moment to moment. Muscle tissue has a fast resting metabolic rate. Thus, more lean muscle mass translates into more calories (including glucose or blood sugar) burned per minute, even you are at rest. This helps to keep blood sugar lower. The other benefit is that weight lifting burns many carbohydrate calories stored within our muscles as glycogen. Thus, after a weight training session, many of the carbohydrate calories consumed during the day are used to rebuild the muscles’ glycogen fuel tank in preparation for the next bout of weight training. This effect also helps clear blood sugar (glucose) from the blood stream, lowering blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.


Anders Grontved, Eric B. Rimm, Walter C. Willett, Lars B. Andersen, Frank B. Hu. “A Prospective Study of Weight Training and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Men.”  Arch Intern Med., Aug. 6, 2012.

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