A Publication of WTVP

According to the American Diabetes Association, Type II diabetes is responsible for 90 to 95 percent of blood sugar problems in this country. In many cases, medication alone isn't enough to make a diabetic feel good and live a full life. Exercise, a proper diet, and avoiding unhealthy lifestyle choices provide real physical payoffs-they're essential to controlling diabetes. Exercise training fits into the treatment scheme of diabetes by addressing the management of obesity. Exercise has the potential to control the diabetes by non-medical means, reduce the severity of the disease, and significantly reduce the risk of long-term complications. This is where exercise professionals can make the biggest impact on the treatment of diabetes.

There are studies showing the positive impact physical activity can have on diabetic symptoms. However, many recent studies have illustrated the benefits of strength training (lifting weights) in the management of diabetes. A study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that both strength training and aerobic training can improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin responses to oral glucose similarly. Dr. Ben Hurley, from the University of Maryland, reported a 23 percent increase in glucose uptake after four months of strength training. Researchers found these improvements were significantly related to increases in muscle mass. Since strength training increases lean body mass, it'll also help in weight management.

In another study, individuals with Type II diabetes were placed into two groups: a strength-training group and sedentary control group. The researchers reported the rate of blood glucose entry into the working muscles increased after training sessions. This study demonstrated that strength training alone improved insulin sensitivity by 48 percent.

A final study found in Hormone and Metabolic Research concluded individuals who had impaired glucose tolerance found several months of resistance training led to a much greater increase in insulin sensitivity than seen in patients who engaged in aerobic activity or no training at all. This was attributed primarily to an increase in glycogen storage. According to Len Kravitz, Ph.D., University of New Mexico, "Strength training (when done correctly) has been shown to provide a safe and effective way to control blood glucose, increase strength, and improve the quality of life in individuals with diabetes."

Since exercise has an insulin-like effect on blood glucose levels, exercise should be considered as an adjunct to the medical management of diabetes. One research team, led by Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health, said it best: "The majority of cases of Type II diabetes could be prevented by the adoption of a healthier lifestyle."

If you have Type II diabetes, you owe it to yourself to discover the winning combination of strength exercise and diabetes control. IBI