By Taylor McLamb

From 1980 to 2011, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes has more than tripled, from 5.6 million to a staggering 20.9 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While this is an unnerving revelation, the good news is that with the help of highly skilled doctors who are dedicated toward researching the illness, there are many studies being done to distinguish how to treat and prevent the disease for an upmost healthy lifestyle.

A new discovery has been found that strength has been tied to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes; however, you don’t need to burn yourself out at the gym from over-exercising. Moderate amounts of muscle strength were associated with a 32% reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings on March 11, 2019.

Angelique Brellenthin, a postdoctoral research associate in Iowa State University’s College of Human Sciences and author of the study, said that it was the first study done to investigate the relationship between muscular strength and risk of developing diabetes later in life.

The study looked at 4,681 people 20 years and older that had no Type 2 diabetes at the start of the research. Between 1981 and 2006, the adults participated in various muscular strength tests, which assessed strength in the upper and lower body, and treadmill exercise tests, which looked at cardiorespiratory fitness. Over the span of the study, researchers found that 229 participants developed the disease. The researchers then divided the adults’ muscular strength into thirds, where they found that those in the middle level had a 32% reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes compared with the lower third.

While the study had its limitations, such as the sample size mostly contained white, middle to upper class adults and didn’t take into account each adult’s diet, it did bring forth substantial information.

“We have a solid body of evidence that shows that just being moderately in good shape – having decent muscle strength and decent cardiorespiratory fitness – is significantly associated with a lower risk of diabetes,” said Dr. Monique Tello, a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School