Weightlifting Cuts Diabetes Risk

By Amir Khan on August 7, 2012 10:22 AM EDT

Weights
People who lift weights may be doing more than just bulking up -- they may be cutting their risk for diabetes as well, (Photo: Creative Commons)

People who lift weights may be doing more than just bulking up -- they may be cutting their risk for diabetes as well, according to a new study, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that weightlifting could cut your diabetes risk by up to a third.

Researchers looked at more than 32,000 men over 18 years and found that 30 minutes of weightlifting per day reduced diabetes risk by 34 percent. However, even moderate weightlifting showed benefit -- people who lifted weights for an hour per week had a 12 percent less risk.

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High blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetes come from patients with pancreas that cannot produce enough insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Traditionally, doctors treat Type 2 diabetes with medications and insulin injections. Risk factors for the condition include excess body weight, high cholesterol, low activity and poor diet, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Between 1980 and 2010, the prevalence of diabetes increased 176 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 12 Americans, 25 million in total, has diabetes according to the CDC. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and nerve damage. The disease was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and cost $174 billion in medical costs, disability and loss of work in 2007, the last year with available data.

While exercise has been shown to curb diabetes risk, this is the first study to look at weight lifting as opposed to aerobic exercise, which could benefit people who may not be mobile enough to run.

"Many people have difficulty engaging in or adhering to aerobic exercise," Anders Grontved, lead author of the study and researcher with the University of Southern Denmark, told BBC News. "These new results suggest that weight training, to a large extent, can serve as an alternative."

However, researchers said while weightlifting showed a benefit, aerobic exercise did curb the risk more.

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