Strength training for improving diabetes control

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We all know that strength training has multiple benefits for health, including maintenance of muscle mass, resting metabolic rate and bone density, sustaining independence and having shapely limbs. But did you know that it can also have a major influence on the body’s insulin sensitivity and glucose clearance?

Studies tend to show the most benefit from a combination of aerobic and strength training, but some studies have also shown a favourable change in the important blood marker HbA1c from weight training alone. One ten week study showed much greater reductions in HbA1c in a weight training group compared to an aerobic exercise group, in untrained individuals. What is clear is that multi-set training for the whole body, on 2 – 3 days of the week is required for favourable changes.

This direct quote from an Idea article 2019 –

“Studies suggest that resistance training improves glucose clearance and insulin sensitivity by increasing the concentration, activity and/or sensitivity of GLUT4, insulin receptors, protein kinase B beta and glycogen synthase (Holten et al. 2004). GLUT4, insulin receptors and protein kinase B beta are proteins that help to transport glucose into muscle cells for energy. Glycogen synthase assists in converting glucose molecules into stored glycogen in the muscle (to be used eventually for energy needs)”

“Moreover, an increase in lean mass from weight training may reduce visceral fat—stored around internal organs like the liver, pancreas and intestines (Strasser & Schobersberger 2011).”

Remember that resistance exercise does not have to involve weights. Yoga poses, stability ball moves, suspension training, resisted water exercise with paddles, lifting up children and digging in the garden all counts. As long as you overload the muscles temporarily, and ideally to fatigue.

4.7 million people in the UK have diabetes. 90% of those have type 2. More than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed. (Diabetes UK).

Lisa 🙂