Many people may think that weight training, or weight lifting, is only good for building muscles; that is, good for appearance, but does not give a real health benefit. A new report just published August 6 in the Archives of Internal Medicine gives a different answer.
Especially if you are concerned about avoiding diabetes (diagnosed in over 22 million Brazilians) this is good news for you. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (USA) and the University of Southern Denmark followed 32,002 men from 1990 through 2008. During these 28 years, they questioned the men about their health habits including how much time they spent watching TV daily, how much coffee they drank, if they smoked, how much alcohol they drank, their family health history and much more.
They also questioned them about how much aerobic activity they performed, as well as if they did weight training, and how much. They crossed this information with the various diseases the men developed over the years, and made statistical connections between their health-related habits and disease.
In this study a main question was: does weight training help protect men from developing diabetes? The answer was yes. Men who were faithful about weight training—that is they did weight lifting for at least 150 minutes per week (2 ½ hours total)—had a 34% decreased risk of developing diabetes compared with men who did not do weight training. Between 60 and 149 minutes per week of weight lifting decreased the diabetes risk by 25%.
As you might guess, aerobic exercise also helped reduce the diabetes risk. Men who practiced aerobics for 150 minutes per week or more enjoyed a 52% decreased risk, and between 60 and 149 minutes, a 31% decreased risk.
While aerobic exercise was somewhat better than weight training for diminishing the risk of diabetes, weight training still gave a significant health benefit. And even better was the men who combined aerobics with weight training: those who performed 150 minutes per week each of both aerobics and weight training had about a 60% decreased risk of developing diabetes.
In future posts we will discuss how increased muscle mass is healthy for your body, but for diabetes prevention, it seems that bigger muscles help insulin, the main hormone that regulates sugar in your body, work more efficiently (improved “insulin sensitivity”).
Just because this study was done only in men, the results very likely also hold true for women. So yes, men and women: weight training is good for you, and even better if you combine it with aerobics!
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