Women might consider aiming for those Kelly Ripa sculpted muscles – it's not just jogging that will keep Type 2 diabetes at bay, scientists said in a study Tuesday.
The benefits of aerobic exercise such as running and swimming to help prevent Type 2 diabetes have been established, but with a study of thousands of middle-aged and older women, researchers say that weight-lifting and other muscle-strengthening exercise including yoga were associated with lower levels of the disease.
That does't mean you should hang up your running shoes or swimsuit.
"The findings from our study also suggest that incorporating muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities with aerobic activity according to the current recommendation for physical activity [from health authorities for 150 minutes a week] provides substantial benefit for type 2 diabetes prevention in women," the authors wrote in the online journal PLOS Medicine.
Women who did at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week and at least an hour a week of muscle-strengthening exercise were a third as likely to develop diabetes as inactive women, said the researchers, who were from several institutions including the Harvard School of Public Health.
The researchers followed 99,316 women ages 36 to 81, from two ongoing health studies of nurses, for eight years. The nurses completed questionnaires about their activity levels. (The authors note that two weaknesses of the study are that most of the nurses are of European ancestry and that they were self-reporting their workouts.) During the study, 3,491 women developed diabetes.
There is evidence that glycemic control can be improved with muscle-strengthening activities, the researchers said, adding that there had been less evidence that such workouts helped in prevention. Examples of that activity include resistance training, yoga and lifting free weights.
In the follow-up years, the researchers found that the more activity, the more the benefit, even if not at the level of Ripa, the super-toned television personality.
The effect may occur in several ways, the researchers said. One possibility is that because aging is associated with loss of lean body mass, building muscles may help to counteract that. Another possibility is an enhanced capacity for glucose utilization.
More than 370 million people worldwide have diabetes, characterized by dangerously high amounts of sugar in the blood.