Lead author Anders Grontved, visiting researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health and a doctoral student in exercise epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark, said the research also found when weight training was combined with aerobic exercise -- such as brisk walking or running -- diabetes risk was reduced up to 59 percent.
Grontved said the findings suggested since weight training appeared to provide significant benefits independent of aerobic exercise, it could be a valuable alternative for those who have difficulty with aerobic exercise.
"Until now, previous studies have reported that aerobic exercise is of major importance for type 2 diabetes prevention," Grontved said in a statement. "But many people have difficulty engaging in or adhering to aerobic exercise. These new results suggest that weight training, to a large extent, can serve as an alternative to aerobic exercise for type 2 diabetes prevention."
The researchers tracked 32,002 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1990 to 2008. During the study period, there were 2,278 new cases of diabetes among the men.
The finding, published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine, showed even a modest amount of weight training might help reduce type 2 diabetes risk.