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Health Team

Researchers: Strength Training Can Help Diabetics

Posted November 1, 2007 5:06 p.m. EDT
Updated November 2, 2007 4:57 p.m. EDT

— Jeff Cribbs wasn’t always one to be hanging out in weight rooms. Two years ago, though, genetics began to change everything.

“Diabetes is in my mom's side of the family,” Cribbs said.

At 47, he has diabetes and an implantable cardiac defibrillator because of a weakened heart. Four months ago, he started cardiac rehabilitation at WakeMed, a program that combines aerobic workouts with strength or resistance training.

“When I first came here, my blood sugar was 300. When I left here, it was, like, 130,” Cribbs said.

A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that both aerobic and resistance training helped improve blood sugar levels, and a combination of the two was even better.

WakeMed exercise specialist Beth Drossman said the key is adding muscle mass.

“The more muscle tissue, the higher their metabolism is going to be, and that makes it easier for them to control their weight,” she said.

As weight goes down, blood sugar levels balance. As blood pressure drops, the heart is stronger and overall health improves.

“It gives me more energy,” Cribbs said. “It makes me want to do more things instead of just sitting around not doing anything.”

Cribbs said changes in his diet also played a big role. He plans to stick with it for life, he said.