Why Strength Training Is Your First Line Of Defense To Prevent Diabetes

Why Strength Training Is Your First Line Of Defense To Prevent Diabetes

When it comes to preventing diabetes, exercise is a must. What kind of exercise is best?

Research shows that strength training, aerobic exercise (cardio), and intervals all increase insulin sensitivity and beneficially moderate glucose levels, but strength training has special benefits that make it a must for diabetes prevention:

#1: Increase Muscle Mass

Strength training builds muscle, which increases the number of insulin receptor sites you have. For every 10 percent increase in muscle mass you get an 11 percent reduction in insulin resistance.

#2: Raise Metabolic Rate

Another benefit of increased muscle is that your body requires more energy to sustain itself, raising the number of calories you burn daily.

#3: Increase Glucose Tolerance

After a vigorous workout, your muscles are depleted of fuel, which automatically improves your body’s ability to handle glucose. Over time, your body is better able to regulate blood sugar and you have less risk of hypoglycemia.

 #4: Increase Insulin Sensitivity

In addition to stimulating the growth of new insulin receptor sites, strength training automatically sensitizes your cells to insulin, meaning less insulin is needed to dispose of the same amount of glucose.

#5: Regulate Blood Sugar

We’re generally taught that insulin is necessary to allow the body to burn glucose. But strength training can mimic the effect of insulin, increasing the rate of glucose uptake into the contracting muscle without the presence of insulin.

#6: Increase Fat Burning

Diabetics have a reduced ability to burn fat for energy but strength training increases levels of the adrenaline hormones that play a primary role in burning fat.

#7: Decrease Body Fat

People who regularly train with weights have less body fat than their sedentary peers, while also lowering inflammation, which is a hallmark of diabetes and insulin resistance.

 #8: Greater Bone Strength

Bone density takes a beating when insulin and glucose levels are chronically elevated. Strength training is your best exercise option for building bone strength, while also improving metabolic health and lowering inflammation.

 #9: Increase Energy & Activity Levels

Strength training has a rejuvenating effect on people, allowing them to feel more energized so that they increase activity levels and spend less time being sedentary. This pays off by increasing insulin sensitivity and preventing fat gain and dysfunction.

#10: Better Quality of Life 

Not only will strength training help you feel more motivated to do the activities you enjoy, it improves mobility, and raises levels of hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood and mental outlook for a better quality of life.

How To Get Started:

The one drawback to strength training is that it requires some skill. You need to learn which exercises to train and how to perform them properly. This article gives you 7 steps for getting started. Here’s the short version:

Start by training 2 days a week, working up to 4 once you establish a routine.

Training sessions should last about 45 minutes including warm-up and cool-down.

Choose multi-joint movements, such as squats, overhead press, lunges, and rows.

Perform 8 to 15 reps for 2 to 4 sets, using weights that are hard to lift by the end of the set.

Always prioritize proper form so that you get the greatest return on your effort and avoid injury.


Eves, N, Plotnikoff, R. Resistance Training and Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2006. 29(8).

Hayashi, T., et al. Exercise regulation of glucose transport in skeletal muscle. American Journal of Physiology. 1997. 273(6 Pt 1):E1039-51.

Pesta, D., et al. Resistance training to improve type 2 diabetes: working toward a prescription for the future. Nutrition and Metabolism. 2017. 14(24).