Published: Tuesday April 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday June 14, 2013 MYT 9:11:24 PM

Lifting weights may help diabetics keep blood sugar in check

A new study suggests that lifting weights may help diabetics keep their blood glucose levels under control.

Researchers from the University of Michigan say that lifting weights can increase white muscle -- the type of muscles found in athletes requiring short, intense bursts of energy -- which in turn may help keep diabetes in check.

"We wanted to figure out the relationship between muscle types and body metabolism, how the muscles were made, and also what kind of influence they have on diseases like type 2 diabetes," said head researcher Jiandie Lin.

Like poultry has light and dark meat, humans also have a range of muscles: red, white and those in between. Red muscle, which gets its colour in part from mitochondria, prevails in people who engage in endurance training, such as marathon runners. Sprinters and weight lifters tend to have a lot of white muscle.

"Most people are in the middle and have a mix of red and white," Lin said.

While resistance training in humans can increase white muscle, interestingly, diabetics and aging also tend to induce a whitening of the mix of muscles as well.

"For a long time, the red-to-white shift was thought to make muscle less responsive to insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar," Lin said. "But this idea is far from proven. You lose red muscle when you age or develop diabetes, but is that really the culprit?"

To find out, the team set out to find a protein that drives the formation of white muscle in mice studies. After finding the protein, called BAF60c, Lin's team made a transgenic mouse model to increase BAF60c only in the skeletal muscle, essentially meaning they had more white muscle.

Testing the transgenic mice, the researchers found that they could run longer for short distances, but tired quickly, compared to normal mice.

Then, the researchers fed one group of transgenic mice a "Super Size Me" diet, causing them to double their body weight in two to three months.

When compared to both a group of normal mice who ate the "Super Size Me" diet and a group of transgenic mice who ate normal diets, the obese transgenic mice were found to be better at controlling blood glucose.

Findings were published online April 7 in Nature Medicine. -- AFPRelaxnews

Tags / Keywords: health, diabetes, fitness, research


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