Exercising for a few hours each week could cut diabetes risk by a third

diabetesWant to reduce your chances of type 2 diabetes? According to the findings of a new study, weightlifting could be the key.

The new study into diabetes was conducted over a period of 8 years and involved researchers monitoring the health of almost 100,000 nurses in the United States; all middle-aged or slightly older and none of whom had diabetes at the beginning of the study period.

The findings have been published in PLoS Medicine and show that lifting weights, doing press-ups or other similar resistance exercises on the muscles, shows a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Current guidelines state that people aged between 19 and 64 should already be doing such exercise at least 2 days a week.

Benefits witnessed in the study arose from also engaging in aerobic workouts such as cycling or fast walking; activities that again healthy people aged between 19 and 64 should be doing for at least 150 minutes per week.

So, how much exercise is sufficient enough to make an impact in this regard? The women in the study who managed to do at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week, together with at least an hour a week of muscle-strengthening activities had the most significant drop in risk, reducing their risk of type 2 diabetes by about a third. However, those who only engaged in a total of one hour a week still managed to reduce their risk by about 13%.

It is already known that regular aerobic exercise such as jogging, fast walking, cycling, etc., can help to reduce the risk of diabetes, but the study would suggest that incorporating resistance training will provide an even bigger boost – although this type of training is already recommended by the NHS.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body’s cells are not reacting correctly to insulin. It is estimated that around 90% of adults in the UK with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, commonly in recent times due to a poor diet and obesity. Other risks include a family history of the disease, are over the age of 40 and are of South Asian, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin.

The charity Diabetes UK say that for overweight individuals, each kilogram you lose in weight could equate to up to a 15% decrease in your risk of developing diabetes.

Dr Richard Elliott, spokesman for the charity, commented: “Despite limitations to which this research can be applied to women in general, it underlines the message that leading an active, healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. We know for certain that the best way to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy, balanced diet and by taking regular physical activity. At this time of year, many people are looking for an easy way to lose weight and be more physically active. We recommend finding an activity you enjoy as you are more likely to stick with it and stay motivated.”

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