Less exercise definitely isn’t better

Join the resistance

You know I’m a big fan of exercise. I also believe that even a little exercise is better than none at all.

But while that may be true, a new study I came across makes it pretty clear that, at least where exercise is concerned, less definitely isn’t more.

This remarkable study showed that progressive resistance training–in which you work your muscles to “failure” and increase the amount of weight you lift as they become stronger–reduces blood sugar and insulin resistance, even without actual weight loss.

What’s more, results actually showed metabolic improvements in strength-training subjects that were similar to those seen with the addition of a second diabetic medication.

Which means that yes, you can replace medication with simple lifestyle changes. And this study is solid proof. So let me share a few of the details.

Researchers randomly assigned 103 type 2 diabetics–all over the age of 60–to two groups.

One group received supervised high-intensity progressive resistance training sessions three times a week. And the other group participated in sham exercise–which, in this case, involved using the same equipment, but at a lower, slower, and non-progressive intensity.

Subjects who increased muscle mass and shed body fat with progressive resistance training saw some serious benefits at the end of the study. Most notably, improved insulin receptivity and blood sugar balance.

But the same can’t be said for subjects who didn’t engage in this high-intensity form of training. Even with improvements in muscle mass and body fat.

This suggests that progressive resistance training itself is responsible for these metabolic benefits. It also indicates that simply taking a walk every day isn’t enough if you really want to turn your health around.

You’ve got to step it up a notch–especially since your muscle mass takes a substantial hit as you get older.

A combination of aerobic and resistance training is pretty universally recommended these days. Even by the troglodytes responsible for the federal government’s health guidelines.

But unfortunately, I still don’t think the message is getting out like it needs to. Physicians simply must increase their focus on exercise as an effective treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes.

And hopefully, they will. Especially as a younger generation of doctors–ones who actually exercise themselves–begins to take over. Let’s not forget that even physicians are generational thinkers.

The era of exercise and nutritional supplements has arrived. And it’s only a matter of time before conventional medicine catches up.

“Changes in Insulin Resistance and HbA1c Are Related to Exercise-Mediated Changes in Body Composition in Older Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: Interim outcomes from the GREAT2DO Trial.” Diabetes Care. 2013 Mar 8.