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Lifting Weights May Cut Women's Diabetes Risk

Update Date: Jan 14, 2014 05:22 PM EST

Lifting weights can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in women, according to a new study.

Cardio has been shown to prevent diabetes, and muscle-strengthening alone or in combo with cardio have been shown to improve diabetic control among patients with diabetes.

While weight training has been associated with lower risk of developing diabetes in men, researchers said no such association has been established in women.

Lead researcher Anders Grøntved of Harvard School of Public Health followed 99,316 middle-aged and older women for eight years. The women were part of the Nurses' Health Study ([NHS] 2000-2008) and Nurses' Health Study II ([NHSII] 2001-2009). The women did not have diabetes at baseline.

After analyzing weekly time spent performing resistance exercise, lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises (yoga, stretching, toning), and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) reported at baseline and in 2004 and 2005.

The findings revealed that resistance exercise and lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises were both independently associated with a lower risk of diabetes. Researchers said the findings held true even after accounting for aerobic activity and many other potential confounding factors.   

Researchers also found that women who did at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity and at least 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activities experienced the greatest reduction in risk of developing diabetes compared to inactive women.

"The findings from our study...suggest that incorporating muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities with aerobic activity according to the current recommendation for physical activity provides substantial benefit for [diabetes] prevention in women," researchers said in a news release.

While following the current recommendations for both muscle-strengthening and aerobic activity significantly reduces the risk of diabetes. Researchers note engaging in lower levels of muscle-strengthening and aerobic activity can also reduce risk of diabetes.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

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