Resistance training may reduce Type 2 diabetes complications

Doing resistance exercises – which use body weight to strengthen muscles – may help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their risk of complications, say scientists from the University of British Columbia.

In tests, a single session of interval weight-training involving simple leg exercises improved blood vessel function, not just in people with Type 2 diabetes but in those without the condition too. Since people with Type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, the study’s findings may be significant because blood vessel function is thought to be an indicator of heart health and heart attack risk.

The study investigated the impact two different types of interval training had on blood vessel function, namely resistance training – leg presses, leg extensions and leg lifts – and cardiovascular training (using an exercise bicycle).

In both cases, volunteers were asked to alternate periods of high-intensity effort and rest. The entire work-out lasted for 20 minutes, and included a warm-up and seven one-minute, high-intensity intervals with a minute’s rest between each.

After just one session, all of the volunteers – who included people with and without Type 2 diabetes, regular exercisers and non-exercisers – showed greater blood vessel function after the resistance-based training, with the most significant improvements seen in those with Type 2 diabetes.

Effective method

“Resistance training was introduced to this group because it’s relatively easy and can accommodate individuals who are new to exercising,” says the study’s co-author, Monique Francois. “This study shows that resistance-based interval training exercise is a time-efficient and effective method with immediate effects.”

According to Diabetes UK, around 90 percent of the 3.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK have Type 2 diabetes. A further 1.1 million people are estimated to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes, while almost 12 million are thought to be at increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.

If the study’s findings are correct, doing resistance training – or, indeed, any type of weight training – may be a safe and effective way for those with Type 2 diabetes to manage their risk of complications from the condition.

The NHS Choices website has lots more information and instructions on how to do resistance exercises, including strength exercises for older people.

Meanwhile, if you have Type 2 diabetes, your local Careway pharmacist has plenty more advice to help you manage your health. Many Careway pharmacies also offer diabetes screening for those who want to find out if they’re at risk. Find your nearest participating Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.