The importance of strength training

Strength training has many benefits, especially for diabetics and older adults.

Strength training or resistance training is a type of exercise that focuses on using resistance to strengthen your muscles.

Aging is associated with a number of functional declines that contribute to disabilities, fragility and falls. Muscle mass and strength also decreases with age. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reported that most of us start losing muscles around age 30, with a 3 to 8 percent reduction in lean muscle mass every decade thereafter.  

Strengthening exercises are beneficial for older adults because these exercises help build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density. Strength training has the ability to combat weakness, fragility and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. For diabetics, it is beneficial because it helps your body utilize insulin better which can help lower blood glucose levels.  

The American Diabetes Association recommends doing some type of strength training at least twice a week in addition to aerobic activity. Some examples of strength training activities are:

  • Weight machines or free weights at the gym
  • Using resistance bands
  • Lifting light weights or objects like canned goods or water bottles at home
  • Using your own body as a weight (push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, wall sits and planks)
  • Classes that involve strength training (yoga, Tai Chi)

Exercise and strength training play an important role in managing diabetes and supports living a healthy life. If you would like to learn more about healthy lifestyles and nutrition, visit USDA’s My Plate page. For more health and nutrition tips, visit Michigan State University Extension.

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