Adding weight training to your walking can help you reduce your diabetes medications and lose more weight.
If there were just one piece of fitness advice I could give you, it would be: "Don't be afraid to lift weights!" Building strong muscles helps your body consume more blood glucose.
Don't worry that weight lifting is going to bulk you up, or injure you. As long as your doctor agrees, it's one of the easiest get-fit activities out there. Whether you’re 30, 50 or 75, it's never too late or too early to pick up dumbbells and get stronger.
I was especially excited to read a recent study out of Louisiana State University, in which Timothy Church, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, found that combining moderate aerobic exercise (like brisk walking) with weight training is the ideal fitness mix for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.
Study participants who augmented their fitness walking with an easy, 20-minute weight training circuit twice weekly had significantly lower A1C levels, which measure long-term blood-sugar concentration; this group was also able to lower their use of diabetes medication and drop an average of 3.7 pounds.
Dr. Church explains why: Skeletal muscles—like biceps, triceps and the large muscles in your butt and legs—are the body's biggest consumers of blood sugar. Make them stronger and they'll become a calorie-and-glucose-blasting machine.
Written by: Kathy Smith, a leading fitness educator
From our sister publication, Diabetes Focus, Fall 2011