Resistance (weight) training, which promotes increased muscle mass, can lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. The latest findings recently published in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered a correlation with increased muscle mass and decreased insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes. Researchers found that for every 10% increase in skeletal muscle index (ratio of muscle mass to total body weight), there is an 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% reduction in prediabetes. Prediabetes is the beginning stage of diabetes when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Even if you already have type-2 diabetes, resistance training may play a role in helping to better use the insulin produced. The reason for this is because muscle is a very insulin-sensitive tissue within the body. The more muscle you have, the more glucose your body can metabolize because of increased insulin sensitivity. Besides increasing your muscle mass, an increase in chromium and fiber intake will also help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is an insidious disease as the symptoms run the gamut (e.g., blurred vision, excessive thirst, tremors, extremity numbness, frequent urination, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, extreme hunger, anxiousness, headaches, etc.) but it can be treated or even prevented by proper exercise. Recent research in Neurology has indicated that type-2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. A sedentary lifestyle is certainly a risk factor for diabetes due to the increased fat storage and decreased muscle mass that occurs. Some of the benefits of exercise with regard to diabetes include:
- Decreased blood sugar due to increased cellular uptake of glucose (i.e., increased insulin sensitivity)
- Increased heart and skeletal muscle strength
- Increased blood circulation
- Decreased stress
- Decreased bodyweight
- Get medically evaluated for fasting blood glucose (exercise is contraindicated if fasting glucose is less than 80 mg/dl or greater than 250 mg/dl)
- Avoid high-intensity, high-impact exercise (e.g., high box jumping)
- Exercise within three hours after a meal
- Have a relatively high-glycemic index food available while exercising (e.g., orange juice, candy)
- Check glucose levels before, during and after exercise (i.e., normal casual glucose should be between 100 to 200 mg/dl)
- Exercise more than one hour after insulin injection (Type-1 diabetes)
- Avoid exercising in a hot, humid environment (e.g., greater than 90 deg with 60% humidity)
- Inspect your feet regularly for blisters, lesions, etc.
- F: resistance training: 2 to 3 days/wk: cardio training: 4 to 7 days/wk
- I: resistance training: less than 75% 1-RM (12-20 reps/set); cardio training: 40 to 70% HRR
- T: resistance training: 15 to 30 mins; cardio training: 20 to 30 mins (Type-1) and 40 to 60 mins (Type-2) while periodically monitoring glucose level
- T: resistance training: 8 to 10 exercises; cardio training: walking, swimming, cycling, rowing
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."