Strengthening Your Muscles -- A New Practice for Diabetes Prevention

weight training

Like any other mindful practice, diabetes prevention requires careful attention, until – over time – healthy choices become habitual.

Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. Research indicates that as much as 90% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented when one does not smoke, consumes a healthy diet, and stays physically active. Yet cases of this serious disease continue to multiply. Over ten million people in America alone are suffering with type 2 diabetes.

Given our current toxic food environment, sedentary lifestyles, and stressful and fast paced lives, many feel too helpless and overwhelmed to step off the unhealthy path they are on.  Over time, keeping the status quo will likely increase our chances of getting diabetes later on in life.  Being overweight alone increases the risk of getting diabetes. 

It is well known that daily bouts of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or dancing, will not only help to maintain our caloric balance but also prevent diabetes. But new research indicates that there is another form of exercise that will help prevent diabetes: weight training.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that “Men who do weight training regularly—for example, for 30 minutes per day, five days per week—may be able to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 34%.”

Weight training is a healthy practice for all of us, regardless of our diabetes risk.  Weight training helps maintain our muscle  mass and bone health, makes us feel stronger, improves our balance and coordination and burns off calories. I practice moderate weight training four times a week and am happy to share this simple exercise with you. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

I routinely use 2 pounds dumbells. If you don’t have dumbells, you can use soup cans.

1. My first routine is to work my biceps. I exercise one arm at a time. Standing firmly on the ground with feet shoulder-width apart, I hold a dumbbell in my hand with my palm facing up and arms parallel to my body,  As I breathe in, I lift the dumbbell toward my body, hinging at the elbow, and hold it for a second. Then I slowly lower my arms to the horizontal position as I breathe out.  I usually do two sets of eight repetitions and then repeat with the other arm.

2. Next, I work my outer arm tricep muscles.  I do one arm at a time as well with this exercise.  Standing firmly on the ground with feet shoulder-width apart, I hold a dumbbell in my hand with my elbows hinged so my arms are making a ninety degree angle.  As I breathe in, I extend my arm back to straighten the elbow.  Breathing out, I slowly  bend my elbow..  For this routine, I also do 2 sets with eight repetitions.

3. Another great strength building exercise is to use these two pound dumbells when doing lunges.  It is a terrific exercise for building strength in my quadriceps in the front of my thighs and hamstrings.  It's also great for my balance and helps me feel more solid and sturdy. I stand straight and hold the weights by my side, keeping my arms straight.  As I inhale, I take a big step forward with the right leg and bend both knees, careful that I can still see my right toes under my right knee - so it's not overextending.  As I exhale, I bend my left knee to the floor. When I come out of the lunge, I bring the back leg forward to a standing position.  I repeat this routine with the left leg and do 8 –10 repetitions.

To get a better sense of a basic lunge without weights, watch this video from The Mayo Clinic. To learn more about diabetes prevention, visit the Nutrition Source.

If you have never done any weight training exercise, consult an exercise physiologist or trainer before beginning to avoid injury.

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