A bodybuilding program has many benefits for people of a wide range of ages. These benefits spread across physical, physiological and mental domains. Diabetes affects 171 million people worldwide and for a good proportion of them, they can combat the damaging effects of diabetes with a good resistance exercise program.
There is a large amount of people living with diabetes around the world, so it's highly possible that you know someone or will know someone in the future with diabetes. Knowing about diabetes and how bodybuilding can help with this condition will prove to be a lifesaver.
There are 3 types of diabetes:
As a diabetic, the struggle to manage your blood sugar levels is a constant battle. Exercise helps get glucose into the cells and converts muscle glycogen to energy maintaining blood glucose at a more consistent level. Resistance exercise on its own or weight lifting has been shown in two notable large scale reviews to help with glycaemic control and insulin sensitivity1,2. Additionally, with an increased muscle mass, your ability to utilise or store excess blood glucose increases. Having diabetes also puts you at risk of cardiovascular issues such as heart disease and other problems with the blood vessels. Recent studies have shown that resistance training can help dramatically with such issues. One review showed that exercise training was able to decrease the risk of hospitalisation from heart failure by 28 percent3. Another study indicated that that men who weight trained for 30 minutes or more weekly had a 23 percent lower risk of heart disease.4
Diabetics must plan the time and duration of workouts according to the type of diabetes they have. For type 1 diabetics, it is important to match your workout with the amount of glucose in your blood as well as the amount and type of insulin you use. For type 2 diabetics, the most important thing is monitoring your blood glucose. Since exercise reduces blood sugar levels, you should ease into training making small increments at each workout so your body becomes conditioned to the new activity levels, to avoid hypoglycaemia – where your blood glucose levels drop too long. Always monitor your blood glucose levels before and after your workout to see how your body reacts to it. For best results or more advice, please speak to a dietician, diabetes educator or your local GP.
Resistance training is beneficial for all populations, but as a diabetic, incorporating it into a healthy, active lifestyle will prove wonders and reduce the risk of any future complications. Weight training will reduce your requirement for insulin, control diabetes and reduce future cardiovascular events. Whether you are a diabetic or know someone who is, spread the word of the benefits of weight training for diabetes and get started with it today.
1. Gordon BA, Benson AC, Bird SR, Fraser SF. ‘ Resistance training improves metabolic health in type 2 diabetes: a systematic review.’ Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2009 Feb;83(2):157-75.
2. Irvine C et al. ‘Progressive resistance exercise improves glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review.’ Aust J Phyiother. 2009:55(4):pp237-46.
3. Davies EJ. ‘Exercise training for systolic heart failure: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis’. Eur J Heart Fail (2010) 12(7): 706-715.
4. Tanasescu M, Leitzmann MF, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB. Exercise type and intensity in relation to coronary heart disease in men. JAMA. 2002 Oct 23-30;288(16):1994-2000.