Muscle training linked with lowered risk of type 2 diabetes

A new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study finds that muscle strengthening and conditioning activities—like resistance exercise, yoga, stretching and toning—are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Following nearly 100,000 women over eight years, Anders Grøntved, visiting researcher in the Department of Nutrition at HSPH, Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, and colleagues found that women who did more than 150 minutes per week of muscle strengthening or conditioning had a 40% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with women who didn’t do muscle work. In addition, women who did both aerobic exercise and muscle training—at least 150 minutes per week of the former and 60 minutes per week of the latter—were a third as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as inactive women.

“For those women who have difficulty in engaging or adhering to aerobic exercise, then muscle-strengthening activities…can serve as an alternative for protection against type 2 diabetes,” Grøntved said in a January 15, 2014 Voice of America article. “Even small increases in the volume of activity can provide some substantial health gains.”

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Weight training associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (HSPH release)