Muscle-strengthening, conditioning reduced diabetes risk for women

Middle-aged and older women reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by engaging in muscle-strengthening and conditioning exercises, according to new study findings, which support previous data released regarding men who weight train.

“The findings from our study … suggest that incorporating muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities with aerobic activity according to the current recommendation for physical activity provides substantial benefit for [diabetes] prevention in women,” Anders Grøntved, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues wrote.

For 8 years, this ongoing prospective study analyzed 99,316 middle-aged and older women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS; 2000-2008, n=51,642) and Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII; 2001-2009, n=47,674). These women did not have diabetes at baseline, and the researchers looked at the participants’ weekly time spent performing resistance exercise, lower-intensity muscular conditioning exercises and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity. Specifically, they looked at baseline and the biannual survey from 2004-2005 to determine whether the time dedicated to conditioning and physical activity correlated with a reduced risk for new-onset diabetes.

During follow-up, 3,491 women developed type 2 diabetes (NHS, n=2,158; NHSII, n=1,333). The researchers found that resistance exercise and lower-intensity muscular conditioning exercises were both independently associated with a reduced risk for diabetes, after adjusting for aerobic activity and other potential confounding factors.

The most substantial risk reduction was seen in women who engaged in at least 150 minutes/week of aerobic activity and at least 60 minutes/week of muscle strengthening as compared with inactive women (pooled RR=0.33; 95% CI, 0.29-0.38).

Women who engaged at lower levels of physical activity experienced a pooled RR reduction of 0.83 for 1 to 29 minutes/week, 0.93 for 30 to 59 minutes/week, 0.75 for 60 to 150 minutes/week and 0.6 for >150 minutes/week, according to data. The researchers said the population studied was largely of European descent and data could not be extrapolated to other populations at this time.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.