Benefits of resistance training for people with prediabetes

Nearly one in three adults has prediabetes, which is higher-than-normal blood sugar that isn’t high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Without lifestyle changes, though, the chances of prediabetes developing into type 2 diabetes are high.

Controlling prediabetes

The prevalence of prediabetes has been climbing for the past three decades. During this time, doctors have recommended cardiovascular exercise and diet to control blood sugar. New research gives people another option.

For people with prediabetes who struggle with aerobic exercise, resistance training, or strength training, maybe a ticket to better health. Studies show that one hour of resistance training before meals can also reduce post-meal blood sugar, especially for middle-age obese men with prediabetes.

How strength training helps to control blood sugar

Muscles store glucose for later use. The idea is that by building muscle mass before a meal, muscle tissue can better absorb glucose. What results is improved blood sugar after eating.

Study results confirmed the theory: Researchers found that people who performed resistance exercises one hour before eating experienced:

  • An increase in how effectively the body uses glucose to reduce blood sugar (insulin sensitivity)
  • A decrease in how quickly glucose enters the bloodstream after eating

For people who have difficulty doing aerobic activity, pre-meal weight training is another way to significantly cut diabetes risk.

What is resistance training?

Resistance exercises are physical exercises that improve strength and endurance. By working to overcome the resistance, muscles get a workout and develop strength.

Any exercise that presents resistance counts. While often associated with weights, no weights or gym memberships are required for strength training. Exercises that use your body weight are just as effective. Bodyweight exercises include:

  • Lunges
  • Planks
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Squats

Tips for safe resistance training

Before starting any new exercise routine, whether cardio or strength training, consult your physician. These tips can help keep you safe:

  • Warm up with gentle motions, because warm muscles are less susceptible to injury.
  • Use body weight exercises, then gradually add weights as you get stronger.
  • Focus on form by engaging abdominal muscles, standing tall and moving slowly.
  • Breathe through exercises to help fuel movement.
  • Modify your routine to keep it interesting and effective.

If you have prediabetes, talk with your primary care provider about whether strength training can help control blood sugar.


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