How Strength Training Affects Inflammation, Blood Sugar and More

I’m a geek. I can easily spend 2 hours per day reading books on fitness and nutrition. Typically, in a year, I’ll read 50-70 books. My most recent read is Resistance Training for the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease by Drs. William Kraemer and Joseph Ciccolo.


Original source: here.

            Why does this book have me so excited? Because we already knew strength training is awesome. Makes you stronger, healthier, more confident. Heck, it probably even saves you money on your car insurance (is there anything it can’t do?). But here is a book that tells professionals how to use it therapeutically.

Here are some of the most interesting points I learned here:

  • In 18-35 year olds who have borderline high blood pressure, resistance training helped lower their blood pressure by 8 mmHg (for the systolic blood pressure) and 6 mmHg (for the diastolic blood pressure). That’s a lot. At that point, they are no longer considered “borderline.” Oh, and this was done without any changes to their nutrition whatsoever.
  • Resistance training helps reduce C-Reactive Protein (CRP). If you have a good doctor, s/he’ll run this on your blood work. This looks at overall inflammation in the body. If this number is high, your risk for heart attack and stroke is high. Strength training without any changes in nutrition or supplements helps lower this number. So basically, strength training in and of itself is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Resistance training helps increase antioxidants in overweight, diabetic men (but it doesn’t have this effect in healthy middle aged men). I’ll bet you thought that antioxidants are something we get strictly in food. Not the case. Your body produces its own antioxidants, and resistance training helps with that.
  • Resistance training does not affect your fasting blood sugar, but it does affect your post-prandial blood sugar (that means blood sugar after eating). Basically, after you eat, blood sugar rises. If you have poor blood sugar control, blood sugar rises a lot. If you have great blood sugar control, it doesn’t rise as much.
  • One study showed that resistance training helped decrease the pain of fibromyalgia after 8 weeks.
  • One test that helps assess the impact of fibromyalgia is called the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ). Typically, fibromyalgia sufferers score 50-70 out of 100. One study showed a 47% reduction in Fibromyalgia symptoms after 8 weeks of resistance training.
  • One study found that strength training done at a low intensity (40% of the maximal effort) and very high intensity (100% of the maximal effort) had no effect or slightly increased anxiety. But strength training at a moderate intensity (70% of the maximal effort) reduced anxiety.
  • One study comparing the impact of strength training at 20% effort vs. 80% of effort on depression found that symptoms of depression were reduced by 50% when subjects were exercising at 80% effort, but only 29% when they were exercising at 20% effort.


If you need help figuring out how to customize strength training to your unique situation, let me know.

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