Aerobic exercise may get the blood pumping, but it turns out strength training may be just as important when it comes to a healthy weight and body—especially for women.
A new study published this month in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reveals that muscle-strengthening exercises reduce the risk of both heart disease and diabetes, even after researchers accounted for outside factors such as age and diet. Strength training was also associated with a lower BMI.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston used data from the ongoing Women’s Health Study to analyze the health patterns of nearly 36,000 women aged 47 to 98 over a 14-year period. When they did, they discovered that those who included strength training in their ongoing exercise regimen were 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and 17% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
While leading health organizations like the American Heart Association advocate at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, often overlooked is the recommendation about strength training: moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits. In this study, strength training combined with aerobic exercise lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes even further: by 65%.