(RxWiki News) Research has shown that aerobic exercise can help lower diabetes risk, and it seems muscle-strengthening exercises may be just has helpful.
A recent study found that engaging in regular muscle-strengthening exercise — such as yoga, stretching and toning — significantly lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged and older women.
The researchers concluded that engaging in regular muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercise reduced the risk of diabetes by even more.
"Discuss a workout plan with your doctor."
The lead author of this study was Anders Grøntved from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts and the Department of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics in the Research Unit for Exercise Epidemiology and Centre of Research in Childhood Health at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark.
This study included 51,642 women, aged 53 to 81 years old, from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) conducted from 2000 to 2008, and 47,674 women, aged 36 to 55 years old, from the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII) conducted from 2001 to 2009.
All participants were free of diabetes, cancer or heart disease at the start of each Nurses' Health Study.
At baseline and halfway through each study, each participant was asked to report her average weekly amount of muscle-strengthening and aerobic physical fitness activities.
It is currently recommended that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week and muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week for a total of 60 minutes or more.
The researchers also had the participants fill out questionnaires at baseline and at two-year intervals throughout NHS and NHSII on disease status, smoking status, body mass index (height to weight ratio), menopause status, oral contraceptive use and postmenopausal hormone therapy use.
In addition, participants were asked to self-report family medical history, race and dietary habits at baseline.
At the end of NHS and NHSII, the findings showed that there were 3,491 new cases of diabetes out of 705,869 person-years (number of participants with diabetes multiplied by the number of years each participant was affected by diabetes).
The researchers found that women who engaged in at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity and at least 60 minutes per week of muscle-strengthening activities had a 67 percent reduced risk for diabetes compared to women who were inactive.
Participants who did not engage in any aerobic physical activity, but did engage in 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity per week, had a 16 percent decreased risk of developing diabetes compared to participants who engaged in less than 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity per week.
The findings also revealed that, compared to participants who did not engage in either aerobic or muscle-strengthening activity, those who engaged in some activity in both categories, but less than the recommended amount, were 31 percent less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
For the participants who engaged in the recommended amount of muscle-strengthening activity (60 or more minutes per week), but not the recommended amount of aerobic activity, there was a 46 percent decreased risk of developing diabetes compared to those who did not engage in either type of activity.
The participants who engaged in the recommended amount of aerobic activity (150 or more minutes per week), but not the recommended amount of muscle-strengthening activity, had a 58 percent decreased risk of developing diabetes compared to those who did not engage in any type of activity.
Lastly, the researchers determined that the participants who engaged in the recommended amount of both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity per week were 67 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to those who did not engage in either type of activity.
The authors mentioned a couple limitations of their study. First, the participants were mostly of European descent, and therefore these findings may not be applicable to all women. Second, physical activity was self-reported.
This study was published on January 14 in PLoS Medicine.
The National Institutes of Health provided funding.