17 January 2017Don't Resist Strength Training as a Tool for Preventing and Treating Type 2 Diabetes

We can all benefit from strength (resistance) training to increase muscle power. Muscle strength is the ability of muscle to exert force while muscle endurance is the ability of muscle to perform without fatigue. The health benefits of strength training are many, including improvements in muscle mass, strength, physical function, bone density, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and heart health.

If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, then you have even more reason to include strength training in your fitness program. Type 2 diabetes is a condition where there is a progressive loss of insulin secretion from the pancreas. To make matters worse, the insulin that is secreted is not as effective at taking glucose (sugar) out of the blood and moving it into body tissues (insulin resistance). This results in high blood glucose and other negative health issues. Building muscle is a real bonus because muscle tissue receives glucose-carrying insulin much better than fat tissue. This helps clear the excess glucose out of the blood and into the body tissues where it can be used for energy. Starting at about age 30, the body starts to show gradual muscle decline with more dramatic decline at about age 50. It has been shown that diabetes accelerates muscle decline over time - you can read more about this in an article published in Diabetes Care: Excessive Loss of Skeletal Muscle Mass in Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. Strength training can help counteract this decline.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that individuals with diabetes and prediabetes follow their own physical activity plan according to their health status and ability. You can read more in their position statement from 2016. For optimal benefits, the ADA recommends including both cardio and resistance exercise, if possible. The cardio guidelines are to include at least 30 minutes of heart-pumping exercise at least 5 days per week and to include strength training at least twice a week. Examples of strength training include using free weights, weight machines, medicine balls, resistance bands, or doing pushups, squats, or lunges.

A safe strength training program gradually builds the resistance and repetitions to prevent injury while building strength. The American College of Sports Medicine’s Resistance Training for Health and Fitness provides expert guidelines for starting a program. To help determine safety with specific diabetes complications, please consult with your doctor and refer to the ADA’s Exercising With Diabetes Complications. The ADA also has some helpful guidelines for maintaining glucose levels during exercise.

Make sure to record your strength training minutes on the MyNetDiary tracker. Give yourself credit for your exercise and watch your progress by recording it! Not only will you build muscle, but you will also build self-confidence about your exercise plan.

Brenda Braslow, MS, RD, CDE

Brenda is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Denver,

Colorado who specializes in diabetes prevention and health enhancement.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Diabetes/Health Exercise/Weight resistance

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