New research suggests muscle-strengthening exercises and conditioning activities like yoga can help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes in women.
Scientists have found that one way to reduce the risk of diabetes is with aerobic exercise, workouts like running or brisk walking that work up a sweat and increase your heart rate. In a new study, researchers at Harvard University and other institutions studied the effects of other kinds of exercise on diabetes risk.
A previous study found that men who lifted weights were less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, so in this study, researchers wanted to find out if the same holds true for women.
One-hundred-thousand women have joined the long-running Nurses' Health Study. They regularly fill out questionnaires on their health and lifestyle, which scientists use in studies like this.
First author Anders Grontved says they saw better results among women who did regular muscle-strengthening exercise or conditioning activities such as yoga, compared with more sedentary women. "We found that women who engaged in more time in this type of activity had a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes," Grontved said.
The results were similar to the diabetes risk of women who engaged in regular aerobic exercise. "For those women who have difficulty in engaging or adhering to aerobic exercise, then muscle-strengthening activities, like resistance exercise, for example, can serve as an alternative for protection against Type 2 diabetes," Grontved said.
Experts recommend about two-and-a-half hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise a week to reduce the risk of diabetes and other disease. Grontved, however, says they found benefits at all levels of exercise.
The more the women exercised, the lower their risk of diabetes; but, the biggest improvement was charted among those going from zero exercise to just a little bit - say an hour a week.
"The greatest risk reduction occurs at the lowest volume of activity," Grontved said. "So for those people who are inactive, even small increases in the volume of activity can provide some substantial health gains."