Battling Insulin Resistance In Elderly Obese People With Type 2 Diabetes: Bring On The Heavy Weights

By Ty Sevin, Aug 31, 2021

< Back to Benefits of Strength Training on Body Composition in Older Adults

Karen A. Willey, RN, Maria A. Fiatarone Singh, MD, FRACP, School of Exercise and Sport Science, The University of Sydney, NSW, Australia Research and Training Institute Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, Roslindale, MA, USA; Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA


Exercise improves insulin resistance and has beneficial effects in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. However, aerobic exercise is precluded in many with type 2 diabetes due to advancing age, obesity and other co-morbid conditions. In this article the authors provide a review of research associated with progressive resistance strength training and its impact on battling insulin resistance in elderly, obese people.


Weight-lifting or progressive resistance training (PRT) offers a safe and effective exercise alternative for these people. PRT promotes favorable energy balance and reduced visceral fat deposition through; 1) enhanced basal metabolism, 2) enhanced activity level, and 3) counteracting age and disease-related muscle wasting. PRT improves insulin sensitivity and glycemic control, increases muscle mass, strength and endurance, and has positive effects on bone density, osteoarthritic symptoms, mobility impairment, self-efficacy, hypertension and lipid profiles. PRT also alleviates symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia in clinical depression and improves exercise tolerance in cardiac ischemic disease and congestive heart failure, all of which are relevant to the care of diabetic elders. Moreover, PRT is safe and well-accepted in many complex patient populations including very frail elderly individuals and those with cardiovascular disease. PRT is a more feasible intervention than aerobic exercise in elderly, obese individuals with type 2 diabetes due to concomitant cardiovascular, arthritic and other diseases. The evidence strongly supports further investigation into the global benefits of PRT in the management of diabetes.


This article provides a thorough comparison of the use of aerobic exercise verses progressive resistance training in the management of type 2 diabetes in obese elderly patients. It highlights the benefits as well as limitations of both forms of exercise intervention. It is an excellent resource for anyone creating a program for diabetes management with older populations, and/or seeking to add strength training to program offerings for seniors.

Link to Original Research

About the author

Ty Sevin

Director of Human Performance, Education and Research

Articles by Ty Sevin >

With over 25 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and Olympic levels, Ty Sevin is one of the most influential track and field coaches in the country. Ty has worked for the United States Olympic Committee, serving as the Director of the Track and Field Residency Program at the USOC Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. He has also served as an assistant coach for Team USA on three separate occasions, for both the men’s and women’s teams. Ty himself was a four-time U.S. Olympics Trials qualifier in javelin. Ty most recently spent four years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Texas at Austin for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Prior to that, he led the men’s and women’s track and cross-country teams at the University of New Orleans and McNeese State.

Currently, Ty applies his vast industry experience to the role of Director of Human Performance, Research and Education for Keiser Corporation, where he consults with college and professional sports teams regarding the utilization of Keiser strength equipment. He is also responsible for creating educational curriculum relating to human performance and overseeing Keiser research projects