The study, coordinated by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Southern Denmark, involved 32,002 participants from 1990 to 2008. Subjects reported average weekly levels of weight training, other physical activity and television watching. Examples of “other” physical activity included jogging, swimming, heavy outdoor work and more. Participants also logged their typical walking pace and the stairs they climbed. Researchers then looked at type 2 diabetes diagnosis and death. “Daily intake of total energy, saturated fat to polyunsaturated fat ratio, trans fat, alcohol intake, coffee intake, cereal fiber, whole grains, and glycemic load were considered covariates in the analyses,” stated the authors.
Throughout the intervention, researchers documented 2,278 new cases of type 2 diabetes. They found that men who performed at least 150 minutes of weight training per week also engaged in more cardiovascular exercise, watched less television, drank less alcohol, were less likely to smoke and had a healthier diet than those reporting no weight training. All of these covariates were associated with a reduced potential for developing type 2 diabetes.
The authors noted that this benefit was also seen in individuals engaging only in weight training and not in cardiovascular exercise. “The association was independent of aerobic exercise, and even a modest amount of time engaged in weight training seemed to be beneficial,” they said. “These results support that weight training serves as an important alternative for individuals who have difficulty adhering to aerobic exercise, but the combination of aerobic exercise [and strength training] conferred an even greater benefit.”