Increase Muscle and Fitness to Fight Diabetes

Weight training can help regulate blood glucose
Weight training can help regulate blood glucose

Several studies have shown that both increasing muscle mass and regular intensive cardiovascular exercise helps to prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

Increasing muscle mass helps to increase insulin sensitivity. Studies have found that this is more effective than losing weight. When you lose weight through dieting alone you tend to lose both muscle tissue and fat. It is good to lose fat, but losing muscle tissue in unhealthy. The new research has shown how increased muscle tissue makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Insulin is the hormone which is released when blood sugar levels rise.

“participation in regular PA (physical activity) improves blood glucose control and can prevent or delay T2DM, along with positively affecting lipids, blood pressure, cardiovascular events, mortality, and quality of life.” American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association, 2011.

In a healthy person blood sugar levels rise after eating and the insulin aids the uptake of the blood sugar into the liver and muscles. When insulin is not present (in Type 1 Diabetes) or when it is in short supply or the body is just insensitive to it (Type 2 Diabetes) blood sugar levels rise rapidly. This leads to both short term and long term health problems.

The long term damage caused by high blood sugar is the main risk factor for diabetes as it causes damage to the large and small blood vessels in the body which is the cause of heart disease, kidney problems, eyesight failure and loss of feeling in the extremities.

Put Your Fitness First

The first advice given by a doctor when someone is at risk of developing diabetes is to lose weight. Often people go on crash diets without changing any other aspect of their lifestyle. This only results in some moderate fat loss along with muscle wastage.

A much better option is to focus on eating a healthy diet (many dieticians recommend a low GI diet plan to help control blood sugar levels) and taking regular exercise.

There are many ways to exercise to build muscle tissue. If you are very unfit then a good place to start is in the gym as you can use variable resistance machines and slowly build up the weights you lift. This is often the best idea for older people who have not exercised for a very long time. For many people with low muscle mass any form of exercise will help you to increase muscle tissue – walking and gentle swimming will both help if you are generally inactive.

If you are younger then bodyweight circuit training and barbell weight training are excellent options. Combined with a healthy diet which also includes some additional lean proteins you will quickly build up some lean muscle tissue.

Fitness and Muscle is Progressive

The greatest part about working on fitness is that as you get fitter you can do more exercise. When it comes to calorie deficit diets there is only so much you can reduce calories by before you become malnourished and start to starve yourself, which created other health problems.

With exercise you can focus on improving your fitness levels little by little each week and as time passes you start to build more muscle, burn more fat and generally become a much healthier person.

Earlier we talked about the ongoing obesity pandemic. One of the reasons for the rapid rise in cases of diabetes is simply that obesity in also increasing and a combination of poor diet and lack of exercise are the main reasons for the onset of diabetes.

In the same way that health problems such as diabetes arise very slowly after years of neglect, fitness and health improves slowly with exercise and good diet. Results do not appear overnight so do not expect any fitness workouts or diets to lead to quick weight loss solutions. Long term plans that require patience and progressive increases in fitness and strength are the only way to tackle this risk. The research was carried out and published by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Intense Exercise Combats Type 2 Diabetes

The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association produced new guidelines for sufferers of Type 2 Diabetes recommend that 150 minutes of intense exercise should be taken each week, in at least 3 sessions. Five 30 minute workouts each week is possibly the best way to combat type 2 diabetes.

As well an intensive cardio sessions strength training is also very important as increased muscle mass helps to control insulin response and diabetes management.

As well as aiding people that already have diabetes, exercise is one of the best ways to help reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Exercise helps to lower bad cholesterol levels and helps with weight management, according to the research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

“PA causes increased glucose uptake into active muscles balanced by hepatic glucose production, with a greater reliance on carbohydrate to fuel muscular activity as intensity increases.”

Intense exercise has been shown to have a greater benefit than gentle exercise, so rather than just walking for fitness people should perform more intensive workouts, such as circuit trainingweight training and using treadmills and elliptical machines.

The study concluded that exercise plays an important role in the prevention and control of insulin resistance, which is a condition that often leads to the development of type 2 diabetes. Both intensive cardio workouts and weight training workouts produce positive health benefits and help to reduce cholesterol and body fat.

In August 2012 a new study concluded that “higher levels of PA were associated with lower mortality risk in individuals with diabetes” (Sluik et al, 2012).

Weight Training and Cardio Best Way To Prevent Diabetes

New research published in August 2012 showed that weight training is an effective way to prevent the onset of T2 diabetes. The research was designed to assess the influence of combining weight training and aerobic exercise and studied 32,002 American men in a cohort study. The study spanned 18 years, during which there were 2278 new cases of T2 Diabetes.

Those who performed just weight training for 150 minutes a week were 34% less likely to develop diabetes and those who performed just aerobic exercise were 52% less likely to develop diabetes. However, those who performed a combination of weight training and aerobic exercise for 150 minutes a week had the biggest reduction of risk, being 59% less likely to develop diabetes.

The study concluded that weight training was associated with a significantly lower risk of T2DM, independent of aerobic exercise. Combined weight training and aerobic exercise conferred a greater benefit (Grøntved et al, 2012).

Guidelines for Resistance Training with Diabetes

How you exercise is important. The American College of Sports Medicine have produced the following guidelines for exercise:

Strength training should be done at least twice per week for the best gains, and not on consecutive days. It is recommended that 3 strength training sessions per week work best to control diabetes.

Weight lifting should be performed at a moderate intensity, which means lifting weights at around 50% of your “1 rep max“. You can also lift more intensively, towards 80% of your 1RM. Weight training with free weights is ideal and can be done at home or in a gym.

Workouts should include 5 to 10 exercises in each session and cover all muscle groups. A two day split or 3 day split would be ideal for ensuring that all muscles are worked to an adequate intensity each week without causing any overtraining problems.

Diabetes On The Rise

The CDC has predicted that by 2050 one in three Americans may be diabetic. The increasing rates of obesity is the main cause. Without more initiatives designed to make people aware of the serious health problems associated with overeating and lack of exercise, more people will suffer from this crippling disease.


“Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes: American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: Joint Position Statement” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2010 – Volume 42 – Issue 12 – pp 2282-2303 doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181eeb61c. Link to article. Accessed on 27th August 2011.

“Physical Activity and Mortality in Individuals With Diabetes Mellitus” by Sluik et al, Arch Intern Med. Published online August 06, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3130. Abstract.

“A Prospective Study of Weight Training and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Men” by Anders Grøntved, MPH, MSc; Eric B. Rimm, ScD; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH; Lars B. Andersen, PhD, DrMED; Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD. Arch Intern Med. Published online August 06, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3138. Abstract

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