Men listen up! It’s time to start your engines and workout. A new study released yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that lifting weights decreased one’s risk of developing diabetes and, even more importantly, folks with diabetes had a better chance of survival if they incorporated weights into their exercise regimen.
According to researchers in study co-authored by Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Medicine, after a 18-year study of 32,000 men, scientists highlighted that men who lifted weights for only 30 minutes per day, or 2.5 hours per week, were 34% less likely to develop Type-2 diabetes. If men added aerobic exercise to their weight program, their chances decreased by 59%.
“We found that weight training is beneficial for diabetes independent of aerobic exercise. Each of them have independent effects, but the combination of both is most beneficial,” says Dr. Hu. “If someone doesn’t want to do aerobic exercise for various reasons, weight training can be an alternative.”
This is positive news for men and black men in particular. WebMD reports that black men are disproportionally affected by Type-2 diabetes, with over 12.6% of the black male population suffering from diagnosed diabetes in 2011, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many black men carry weight well and don’t receive the same scrutiny that black women get when they gain weight. As men get older, their bodies change rapidly without much outward signals.
After age 25–30, for example, the average man’s maximum attainable heart rate declines by about one beat per minute, per year, and his heart’s peak capacity to pump blood drifts down by 5%–10% per decade.
This means that the longer one waits to get back into a regular workout routine, the harder your body resists the change from a sedentary lifestyle. But you can’t let this fact get in your way towards living a healthier lifestyle.
In a second report published in Archives of Internal Medicine, men with Type-2 diabetes showed remarkable progress when adding weights into their exercise routine. Even low-impact physical activity can extend their lives.
Mitchell Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, and who wrote an editorial about the two studies, wanted to drive home the point that, although it’s understood that it’s up to individuals to want to exercise and eat better, our society can’t make it difficult for folks to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Working long hours, skyrocketing costs of living, and the proliferation of subsidized corn and soy products are all contributing to the rise in diabetes.
“People always think of it as an individual responsibility. As a diabetic you need to eat right and exercise more, but it ignores the fact that modern society in developed countries has evolved to the point that daily life provides no exercise.”
I started lifting decades ago and although I am heavy and diabetes runs on both sides of my family, I have yet to develop it. I seriously believe that weightlifting and regular walking or jogging have made a huge difference my life and have allowed me to avoid some the issues that afflict heavy people, especially blacks, as I have aged.