If you have diabetes, you probably know that some of the most important things you can do for your health are lifestyle changes: eat a healthy diet, be physically active and stay at a healthy weight.
Exercise is very important since, by itself, it can help lower your blood glucose. It can also help you get to a healthy weight and stay there, which can lower your blood glucose and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Have you ever wondered what kind of exercise is best? Do you only benefit from aerobic activities like jogging, swimming, or riding a bike? Or, are things like yoga, pilates, and weight lifting good for you, too? A new study says that for middle-aged women the most benefit comes from doing both.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that adults should get at least 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise. They also say that adults should do some sort of strength-training activity at least 2 days each week. Part of the reason for this is that strength training lowers the risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is on the rise around the world.
The study followed 99,000 women for 8 years. None of them had diabetes at the start of the study. The researchers kept track of the different types of physical activities the women did—both aerobic activities (like jogging or swimming) and strength training (like weight lifting, yoga, or gardening).
They wanted to see if there was a relationship between the amount of time the women spent doing physical activity, the type of activity they did, and the chance that they would get type 2 diabetes. Some past research had found that strength training can help improve blood glucose levels if you already have diabetes. But, it’s not known if this type of exercise can help prevent diabetes.
During the 8 years of the study, about 3,500 women got type 2 diabetes. The results showed that women who did any type of strength training were less likely to have developed diabetes than women who did no strength training.
In the study, the women who did the most exercise (150 minutes of aerobic activity each week plus 60 minutes of strength training) were the least likely to get diabetes.
The researchers also found that your risk for getting type 2 diabetes steadily goes down as the amount of physical activity you do goes up. This is true even if you are only doing strength-training or only doing aerobic activities. Even people who did small amounts of activity—as little as 30 minutes per week—were found to have a lower risk of getting diabetes than people who did nothing.
WHAT DO THESE RESULTS MEAN FOR YOU?
This was the first study to show that for women who don’t already have type 2 diabetes, strength-training exercises alone can reduce the risk of getting it. This is great news for anyone who likes to do yoga, pilates, gardening, or weight-lifting.
Before you start any exercise program, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider to be sure that it is safe for you to do so.