Young woman weight training. Camera angle view.

It is well established that exercise is a good preventive measure against diabetes type 2, and now there is, even more, support with a new study done at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Southern Denmark.

In this prospective cohort study, the researchers followed more than 32,000 men for 18 years. Among whom nearly 2,300 developed type 2 diabetes. But among men who do weight training regularly—for example, for 30 minutes per day, five days per week—may be able to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 34%.

The Even lesser amount of training, up to one hour a week, was also effective and reduced the risk by 12 percent. But the data also show that if they were to combine weight training and aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking or running, they may be able to reduce their risk even further—up to 59%.


The role of weight training in the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is largely unknown.

To examine the association of weight training with risk of T2DM in US men and to assess the influence of combining weight training and aerobic exercise, we performed a prospective cohort study of 32 002 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study observed from 1990 to 2008. Weekly time spent on weight training and aerobic exercise (including brisk walking, jogging, running, bicycling, swimming, tennis, squash, and calisthenics/rowing) was obtained from questionnaires at baseline and biennially during follow-up.

During 508 332 person-years of follow-up (18 years), we documented 2278 new cases of T2DM. In multivariable-adjusted models, we observed a dose-response relationship between an increasing amount of time spent on weight training or aerobic exercise and lower risk of T2DM (P < .001 for trend). Engaging in weight training or aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week was independently associated with a lower risk of T2DM of 34% (95% CI, 7%-54%) and 52% (95% CI, 45%-58%), respectively. Men who engaged in aerobic exercise and weight training for at least 150 minutes per week had the greatest reduction in T2DM risk (59%; 95% CI, 39%-73%).

Weight training was associated with a significantly lower risk of T2DM, independent of aerobic exercise. Combined weight training and aerobic exercise conferred a greater benefit.

A Prospective Study of Weight Training and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Men