Diabetes Agent > News

Don’t resist resistance training

September 4, 2012 in News

If you’re currently doing regular aerobic exercise, but are skipping the gym’s weight room, you may be missing out on some important benefits that can help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Researchers at the University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology in Hall in Tirol, Austria recently published the results of their analysis of a large number of studies that each looked at the relationship among body fat, resistance training, and the body’s inflammatory responses.

Specifically, the studies looked at “visceral fat,” fat deposits that are specific to the abdominal region. These deposits tend to grow naturally with age, and the amount of visceral fat a person has is associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. High levels of visceral fat correlate strongly with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and decreased insulin sensitivity. They also correlate with highly active inflammatory responses, which are suspected to also contribute to diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk.

Weight loss in individuals with a lot of visceral fat has been shown to prevent or reduce these conditions. Usually, attempts to reduce visceral fat focus on aerobic endurance exercises like jogging, cycling, and brisk walking. Resistance training (strength training, weightlifting, and similar exercises) has been less emphasized. It is true that aerobic exercise burns more calories overall, but the studies examined by the Austrian research team found that while resistance training doesn’t result in much weight loss, it does change body composition from more fat to more muscle.

Maintaining a high muscle mass with regular resistance training can reduce obesity-related risk factors for heart disease even without weight loss, and is associated with lowered cholesterol, better insulin sensitivity, and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. One reason for this is that resistance training actually improves both insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake within the muscle tissues of people with type 2 diabetes. Resistance training alone also seems to help offset the naturally tendency to gain visceral fat as people age, reducing the rate at which extra fat accumulates.

This doesn’t mean that individuals looking to reduce their health risk should give up on the treadmill in favor of daily resistance training. The analysis of multiple studies showed that the best exercise plans for overall health combine aerobic endurance training and resistance training in a balanced plan overseen by a health care professional. The best plan overall combines this kind of exercise plan with a healthy diet.

Based on their analysis, the research term indicated that resistance training could be an effective way to prevent or delay abdominal obesity and inflammatory chronic diseases such as diabetes. More research is needed, but now is an excellent time to look at your workout regimen. Organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association already recommended including resistance training and aerobic exercise into your fitness regimen.

If you’re not currently doing any resistance training, check with your doctor and ask what kinds of activities would be right for you. You can learn more about different types of exercise and find ideas for exercises at the American Diabetes Association’s website, on their “Food & Fitness” pages.

The article was published in the journal Obesity Reviews, and can be accessed through the Wiley Online Library. You can also read a summary of the findings through HealthDay’s Physician’s Briefing.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *