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  • Writer's pictureLoren Hall

How Strength Training Can Help Diabetes


Researchers found compelling evidence that strength training can help people with diabetes.

While we’ve always known that exercise helps with blood sugar, these studies give us a quantitative look into the subject. The mechanisms involved in this process are diverse and include lipolysis (i.e., fat burning), improved insulin sensitivity, and optimized sugar metabolism.

In this article, we will cover the effects of strength training on diabetes based on reliable scientific evidence. We will also explain some of the mechanisms that lead to these results.

The effects of strength training on diabetes

In one study, researchers recruited 4,500 adults with a high risk of type II diabetes. After enrolling a group of participants in a strength training program, their muscle mass increased, which reduced their risk of diabetes by up to 32%.

The authors of this study stated that they were the first to isolate the effects of strength training on diabetes. This is because previous studies took a general look at the benefits of exercise. However, there are some studies that were a bit more specific.

For instance, one study found that strength training lowers the risk of prediabetes progression to type II diabetes. Another study showed us the benefits of lifting weights on insulin resistance.

How does strength training help with diabetes

Uses glucose for energy

Strength training is an energy-intensive activity that burns plenty of glucose. During a strength training exercise, your body uses up the glucose circulating around. Once that’s depleted, it shifts focus to glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles. As a result, the concentration of glucose in the blood decreases, helping you control diabetes.

Optimizes glucose storage

Bigger muscles translate to a larger capacity for storing sugars. This lowers the amount of sugar circulating in your blood and improves glucose storage.

Accelerates weight loss

Being overweight is the primary trigger of diabetes. According to John Hopkins Medicine, losing 5–10% of body weight can significantly improve A1C scores.

What makes strength training special in the weight loss department is post-exercise oxygen consumption (i.e., after-burn). You see, when you do cardio exercises, you basically burn calories during the exercise itself. However, strength training requires energy during the exercise and for the next 2-3 days. Repairing the damaged muscles and building bigger muscle cells takes a lot of energy.

Reduces belly fat

The fat located on your abdomen is the most harmful to the body. Researchers linked visceral fat to insulin resistance and increased risk of heart disease. You see, these fat cells produce chemicals that alter the action of insulin.

Fortunately, researchers found that strength training is very effective at targeting several fats and improving insulin resistance.

Takeaway message

Strength training provides the body with endless benefits, including the control of diabetes. Following a good workout plan can be the missing piece of the puzzle to fixing your blood sugar levels.

We hope that this article helped you understand the effects of strength training on diabetes. If you have any questions or concerns about today’s topic, feel free to reach out to us!

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