Sure, aerobic exercise is good, but here's a great reason to make sure to get that muscle-strengthening training in: It could help to lower women's risk of developing diabetes.
A new study in the journal PLOS Medicine shows that resistance exercise and lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises, like yoga, are associated with a lower risk of diabetes in women.
A team of researchers, from institutions including the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Southern Denmark, analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study and Nurses' Health study II, which included 99,316 women between ages 36 and 81. The women were all free of disease (cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) at the start of the study, and were followed for eight years. Researchers kept tabs on their development of diabetes, as well as the types of self-reported exercises they did (resistance, lower intensity muscular conditioning, aerobic exercise, and vigorous activity). At the start of the study, 19 percent of women in the Nurses' Health Study and 33 percent of women in the Nurses' Health Study II reported doing any resistance exercises, and 28 percent of women in the Nurses' Health Study and 35 percent of women in the Nurses' Health Study II reported doing any lower intensity muscular conditioning.
By the end of the study period, 3,491 women developed Type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for aerobic activity and other factors, researchers found that women who engaged the most in resistance training and lower intensity muscular conditioning had the lowest risk of developing diabetes.
Specifically, compared with the most inactive women in the study, women who did at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise and at least 60 minutes a week of muscle-strengthening exercises had a lower risk of developing diabetes.
"Resistance exercise may decrease the risk of T2D [Type 2 diabetes] through several mechanisms. Because aging is associated with increasing loss of lean body mass, one important role may be the effect of muscle-strengthening and conditioning activity on skeletal muscle and conditioning activities with T2D risk, suggesting that participation in these types of activities can lower T2D risk without changing body weight," researchers wrote in the study.