Barbells may have just regained workout appeal for men concerned about developing diabetes, especially those not keen on bouncy aerobic sessions.

That’s because regular weight training (defined as one half-hour at least five days per week) has been linked to a possible reduction in Type 2 diabetes risk of up to 34 percent, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

When researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health teamed up with those from the University of Southern Denmark to track more than 32,000 men for 18 years, they found that even a tiny dose of weight training may reduce the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, and that these benefits occurred independent of aerobic exercise.

The study subjects self-recorded the amount of weight training, as well as the amount of aerobic exercise, they did every week in biannual questionnaires. According to the findings, compared to men who did no weight training at all, those who each week completed:

  • Up to 59 minutes experienced a 12 percent drop in Type 2 diabetes risk
  • Between 60 and 149 minutes experienced a 25 percent drop in Type 2 diabetes risk
  • More than 150 minutes experienced a 34 percent drop in Type 2 diabetes risk

The most potent dip in risk of type 2 diabetes, however, occurred in men who clocked a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, such as brisk walking or tennis, in addition to a minimum of 150 minutes of weight training weekly. This power-player dual regimen led to whopping 59 percent reduced risk.

“This study provides clear evidence that weight training has beneficial effects on diabetes risk over and above aerobic exercise, which are likely to be mediated through increased muscle mass and improved insulin sensitivity,” said lead study author Frank Hu, Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology, in a press release. For optimal results, incorporate resistance training into aerobic sweat sessions, suggested Dr. Hu.

Still, further research is required to solidify this finding and to determine whether it applies also to women.