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Strength Training and Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you might want to consider strength training. Of course, any regular exercise is important for those with diabetes. Aerobic exercises such as walking or swimming can help you lose weight, improve your heart health, and better control your blood sugar.

Strength training is another form of exercise that is beneficial for those with diabetes. Also known as resistance training, strength training usually involves lifting weights in order to build muscle. You can also increase your strength by pushing or working against something that resists your weight, such as doing pushups.

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If you have diabetes, strength training can improve your quality of life by allowing you to continue to perform everyday activities such as walking, lifting, and climbing stairs as you get older. Strength training can also help reduce your risk for osteoporosis and painful fractures.

Diabetes and the Benefits of Strength Training

If you have diabetes, research has shown that strength training can:

  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Improve glucose tolerance
  • Help you lose weight
  • Lower your risk for heart disease

In scientific studies, strength training has been found to improve insulin sensitivity in those individuals with diabetes to the same extent that aerobic exercise does. Extended periods of strength training improve blood sugar control as well as taking a diabetes drug. In fact, in those people with diabetes, strength training in combination with aerobic exercise may be even more beneficial.

Before You Start Strength Training

Talk to your doctor before you start any exercise program. Your doctor may want to examine you to make sure you are able to do the exercise program without injuring yourself.

Strength Training and Diabetes Guidelines

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with type 2 diabetes start a strength training program to help with blood sugar control. The program can begin with a moderate schedule (one set of 10-15 repetitions with weights up to three times a week). Once you become accustomed to the moderate schedule, you can move on up to three sets of 10-15 repetitions with weights up to three times a week.

As with any type of exercise, with strength training always warm up before exercising and then take time to cool down afterward.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on May 16, 2012

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