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Active Voice: Strength Training Lowers Risk of Impaired Glucose Metabolism at the Population Level

from By Karl Minges, M.P.H., and David Dunstan, Ph.D.

Viewpoints presented in SMB commentaries reflect opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or policies of ACSM.

Karl Minges is a doctoral student at Yale University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. His research interests broadly relate to diabetes and cardiovascular disease and the role of health behaviors in preventing overweight/obesity. Mr. Minges completed the present work with the support of a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship administered by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission.

Professor Dunstan is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and heads the Physical Activity Laboratory at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He is an ACSM member whose research focuses on the role of physical activity and sedentary behavior in the prevention and management of chronic diseases.

This commentary presents perspectives from Mr. Minges and Dr. Dunstan’s relative to issues central to their cross-sectional study that appears in the February 2013 issue of ACSM’s
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise® (MSSE).

Increasing rates of type 2 diabetes (T2D) have global public health implications; furthermore, about 1 in 3 adults are afflicted with the precursor to T2D – impaired glucose metabolism (IGM). Thus, they are at risk of developing T2D and associated cardiovascular complications.

Participation in regular physical activity has a key role in managing insulin resistance in those who have T2D and in preventing the development of T2D in those with IGM. Traditionally, engagement in aerobic activity has been the exercise modality championed for the prevention and management of T2D. However, there is a plethora of studies to show that strength training (ST) – resistance exercise – not only leads to improved glycemic control, but also provides a means to maintain functional capacity and prevent and manage other health impairments. Indeed, several leading organizations, including ACSM, endorse ST exercise as an integral component of adults' daily physical activity – recommending a frequency of ST of at least twice per week for those with and without T2D. Further, Braith and Stewart, in their 2006 research review, have suggested that training objectives may be accomplished in about 40 minutes of ST per week. more

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