Researchers say men who do weight training regularly—for example, for 30 minutes per day, five days per week—may be able to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 34 percent.
And if they combine weight training and aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or running, they may be able to reduce their risk even further—up to 59 percent.
The study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and University of Southern Denmark researchers is the first to examine the role of weight training in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
The results suggested that, because weight training appears to confer significant benefits independent of aerobic exercise, it could be a valuable alternative for people who have difficulty with the latter.
The researchers, including senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, followed 32,002 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1990 to 2008.
The findings showed that even a modest amount of weight training may help reduce type 2 diabetes risk.
The researchers categorized the men according to how much weight training they did per week—between 1 and 59 minutes, between 60 and 149 minutes, and at least 150 minutes—and found that the training reduced their type 2 diabetes risk by 12percent, 25 percent, and 34 percent, respectively, compared with no weight training. Aerobic exercise is associated with significant benefits as well, the researchers found—it reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7 percent, 31 percent, and 52 percent, respectively, for the three categories above.
The researchers also found that the combination of weight training and aerobic exercise confers the greatest benefits: Men who did more than 150 minutes of aerobics as well as at least 150 minutes of weight training per week had a 59 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Grontved said that further research is needed to confirm the results of the study as well as to analyze whether or not the findings can be generalized to women.
The study will be published online in Archives of Internal Medicine.