People strength-train for different reasons – to build muscles for better aesthetics, to stay fit, as a hobby or upon the request of a physician.
If you have diabetes, building muscles is not a luxury, it is a necessity that will help you manage your condition.
29.1 million people in the United States alone have diabetes. That aside, almost 8.1 million more people might have it, they just do not know it yet.
For this reason, these muscle-building benefits do not just apply to people with diabetes, but everyone in order not to be among the 1.4 million new diabetes diagnoses made every year.
How Building Muscle Helps Manage Diabetes
1. Improves Glucose Delivery in Muscles
Your body produces insulin to help blood sugar get into the cells. Once in the cells, the body uses blood sugar to generate energy and store the surplus for later use.
As you do strength training to build muscles, you need more energy, thus, more glucose to get through with the training. This triggers your body to use up most of the available blood sugar.
The more muscle you have, the more efficient the glucose in your body is used without requiring you to use more insulin.
2. Reduces Insulin Resistance
People with type II diabetes develop a condition where the body cannot keep the blood sugar levels in control, thus they tend to go high.
When blood sugar levels are high, the body needs more insulin than it readily produces to regulate the blood sugar – this explains the insulin injections.
Research has however shown that body muscle is inversely proportional to insulin resistance. A 10% increase in muscles results in an 11% decrease in insulin resistance.
3. Helps Reduce Body Weight
Research has shown that a 7% loss in body weight increases insulin sensitivity by up to 57%.
Building muscle helps you lose weight by burning the extra calories that would otherwise be transformed into fats. It also increases your overall metabolic rate, even when you are resting.
The truth is you can build lean muscle without exercising for hours if you use these fat-burning home workouts.
4. Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, kidney problems and a host of other conditions. Building muscle improves your body’s efficiency in distributing oxygen and nutrients. This puts less strain on your heart, thus lowering the risk of heart disease.
5. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
There is good and bad cholesterol in the body. The high-density lipoprotein, alias good cholesterol, prevents a build-up of cholesterol.
The low-density lipoprotein promotes the build-up of the cholesterol which might result in a stroke. It is thus aptly named ‘bad cholesterol’ for its capacity to clog blood vessels.
Muscles help lower bad cholesterol and increase the good type in people with diabetes who are prone to stroke and heart diseases.
6. Prevents Falls
The muscles of people with diabetes are generally weak, especially the leg muscles. According to one study, fat infiltrates the leg muscles and makes it hard for the development of lean muscle.
Building leg muscles improves the flow of blood to the legs, thus making them stronger and less susceptible to avoidable falls.
You will also enjoy these amazing benefits when you do leg workouts regularly.
7. It Strengthens Bones
When you build muscles through strength training, you also build strong bones.
When your blood sugar is high, some of the glucose ends up binding to the protein found in bones known as collagen.
When this happens, the structure of your bones becomes so weak and brittle, and you may be more susceptible to falls that result in serious fractures.
More so, many diabetics experience numbness in their feet and hands, a direct result of the high blood sugar, making them even more susceptible to falls.
You need strong bones to lower the risks of fractures if these falls occur.
8. Promotes Healing of Wounds
People with diabetes should try as much as possible to avoid cuts or blisters of any kind.
Wounds heal very slowly in the presence of high blood glucose. They often get infected and may result in amputation and, at worst death.
This slow healing partly arises from the slow formation of collagen, which aids in granulation.
Muscles increase blood flow and boost oxygen delivery, which forms a perfect avenue for the formation of collagen.
9. Gives You More Energy
Fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of diabetes. You may find that you are so tired that taking part in simple daily activities strains you. The secret to feeling more energy lies simply in building muscles.
Fat stores energy where it lies inactive while muscles use up energy and increase the energy output of your body.
10. Aids in Stress Management
Did you know that stress can worsen diabetes? The hormones released when one is stressed have been found to increase the blood sugar level. Being stressed will chip away at your diabetes management efforts.
Strength training puts you in a better mood by increasing the level of endorphins or ‘feel-good’ hormones in your system.
11. Better Sleep Quality
People with diabetes may experience sleep disorders such as insomnia, constant drowsiness and feeling sleepy despite sleeping through the night. Both the quality and the duration of sleep matters for good diabetes management.
Muscles improve the quality of sleep by helping you fall asleep much faster and reducing the instances of waking up in the course of the night.
12. Better Body Mobility
Another common effect of diabetes is nerve damage that might result in numbness and extreme weakness in the legs, feet, toes. It also results in pain around the hips and buttocks, generally hindering movement.
Your body highly depends on your muscles in such conditions to maintain its balance and coordination. The stronger the muscles, the better the balance and ease of movement.
Bonus: Decreases Abdominal Fat
Insulin resistance can be closely linked to visceral fat. In order to increase your insulin sensitivity, you should burn the excess fat and build muscle.
Building muscles helps you get rid of abdominal fat that would otherwise promote high blood sugar.
The Bottom Line
Diabetes demands a healthy lifestyle to promote longevity and a better quality of life. A healthy lifestyle does not stop at building muscle, rather it spills over to the dietary choices that you make on a daily basis.
Be sure to complement building muscles with a healthy diet that has lots of fiber and plant-based foods. Also, adopt good body hygiene practices to avoid the risk of foot ulcers and other infections.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a gym membership or commit long hours to build muscle. Use these 28 fat-blasting workouts to build muscle in 15 minutes a day at home.