It seems that hitting the gym and resistance training may not only keep you fit and looking smart, but also will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. People who are overweight are more likely to have insulin resistance, because fat interferes with the body's ability to use insulin.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs gradually. Most people with the disease are overweight at the time of diagnosis. However, type 2 diabetes can also develop in those who are thin, especially the elderly.
Researchers tapped into data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III on 13,644 adults who were not pregnant and had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 16.5. The researchers wanted to see how mass affects insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes muscle.
For each 10% increase in the skeletal muscle index (ratio of muscle mass to total body weight), there is an 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% reduction in prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which a person's blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes. These relationships held even after the researchers took into account other factors affecting risk for insulin resistance and/or pre-diabetes.
Resistance exercise may also have a role in helping people with type 2 diabetes better use the insulin that they do produce.
Arun S. Karlamangla, PhD, MD, an associate professor of medicine in the division of geriatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles explains:
"It's not just weight that matters, but what proportion of your weight is muscle mass. If you start an exercise program, and don't lose weight, you should not give up hope because your fat is getting converted to muscle. If you lose fat, you gain muscle. So even if the weight is the same, the balance shifts. It's not too late if you already have type 2."
John Buse, MD, PhD, chief of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says that muscle is one of the major insulin-sensitive tissues in the body. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels. Left unchecked, high glucose levels can wreak havoc on the body and cause many diabetes-related complications.
"The more muscle mass you have, the more glucose you can dispose of in response to insulin. Fitness trumps fatness. If you are a little heavy but fit you are probably well. If you are heavy and not fit, your risk of diabetes is higher."
Francesco Rubino, MD, chief of gastrointestinal metabolic surgery and director of the Diabetes Surgery Center at New York-Presbyterian in New York City adds that muscle mass can improve your metabolic efficiency and reduce risk of insulin resistance.
"The exercise that we always used to consider appropriate for reducing cardiovascular risk, aerobic exercise, may not be enough. Sedentary lifestyle also decreases muscle mass."
Diabetes is caused by a problem in the way your body makes or uses insulin. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar (glucose) into cells, where it is stored and later used for energy.
When you have type 2 diabetes, the body does not respond correctly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond normally to insulin. As a result blood sugar does not get into cells to be stored for energy.
Written by Sy Kraft