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Resistance Exercise Training for Obesity and Diabetes

Take Home Points

  1. Resistance exercise training improves body composition and glucose sensitivity. 
  2. Further research on the physiological mechanisms of
    resistance exercise training and obesity is required.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main cause of death in the world for both men and women. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 17.5 million deaths a year result from CVD. Most forms of CVD are preventable with managing risk factors through diet, exercise, cardiovascular protective drugs, and the cessation of smoking (Tresierras 2009). Two rising risk factors, obesity and diabetes, are preventable risk factors for most. 

Endurance exercise training is a well-documented method of reducing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity (Tresierras 2009). Endurance exercise training is commonly called aerobic training and is frequently sought by those seeking body fat reduction. However, more boot camps and personal trainers are incorporating resistance exercise training into their programs. However, the benefit of resistance exercise training in reducing cardiovascular risk factors, specifically diabetes and obesity, remains unsolved.

Most research studies only analyze endurance exercise training or resistance exercise training. Tresierras (2009) analyzed the benefits of combined resistance exercise training and endurance exercise training on cardiovascular risk. In this review, resistance exercise training enhanced insulin sensitivity and improved glucose tolerance in a wide range of study groups (Tresierras 2009). These reductions have been observed with and without nutritional modification.

There is also evidence that regular resistance exercise training can benefit body composition in both men and women. Specifically, a transition of fat mass to lean body mass.  However, studies have concluded that increased glucose uptake is not a consequence of increasing muscle mass during resistance exercise training.

The benefits of resistance exercise training in reducing cardiovascular risk depends on many factors such as age, sex, race, cardiovascular history, current risk levels, and the type of resistance exercise training program used. Unfortunately, the current literature is inconsistent with protocols, making gross applications of the research impossible (Tresierras 2009). More research is needed on resistance exercise training and cardiovascular risk factors. Unfortunately, little research and budget is spent on preventative programs like resistance training. A lack of research forces extrapolation from the research and making educated guesses.

For those seeking fat reduction and muscle mass gains, COR uses resistance exercise training. We also use resistance exercise training management of glucose intolerance and diabetics. Our Santa Clara boot camps and Santa Clara personal training use monthly goal assessments monitoring body composition with ultrasound testing. This keeps a close monitor on lean body mass and fat mass, as monitoring progress towards goals is mandatory for success. We also suggest self blood monitoring for those with insulin dysregulation. As this review indicated, we don’t know the exact physiological mechanism for improved insulin sensitivity from resistance exercise training. However, from the research and experience, we know it helps. Therefore, the research must catch up to the practical implications. This approach has helped many of our clients reserve the effects of diabetes and poor insulin sensitivity. 

Unfortunately, only adding resistance exercise training is not the trick for everyone. Blood analysis and nutritional guidance other services we recommend for those seeking body fat reduction. 
No matter your exercise program, make sure your personal training and boot camps are individualized to fit your goals. Our science backed approach accelerates goal improvements with frequent assessments and monitoring.

  1. World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases. Accessed September 27, 2008. 
  2. Tresierras, M. Balady, G. Resistance training in the treatment of diabetes and obesity: mechanisms and outcomes. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2009 Mar-Apr;29(2):67-75.

 Written by Coach Chris Barber