6 Great Workouts to Try If You Have Diabetes

November 8 2018


Get this: Just 39 percent of adults with diabetes get regular exercise, compared to 58 percent of adults without diabetes, according to a study. If you don’t fall into that 39 percent, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity to manage your condition. Regular exercise can help you keep your weight and blood sugar levels in check, and even boost your mood-three things that can go a long way toward preventing or delaying diabetes-related problems.

To reap the most significant benefits, you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days per week. If you’re trying to lose weight, shoot for a full hour. As for what you should do for exercise, that’s entirely up to you!  Most importantly, your workout should be something you actually enjoy doing. (If you dread every trip to the gym, you’re probably not going to stick with a consistent routine.) However, if you’re new to working out or open to trying something different, consider giving some of these expert-recommended exercises a try. Not only are they great for controlling diabetes-they’re easy to customise based on your fitness level. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your sneakers and get moving!


1) Walking

Whether you head outside or hit the treadmill, walking is an easy, low-impact way to burn kJs, stave off extra kilos, and keep excess glucose from building up in your blood and raising your blood sugar levels, explains endocrinologist Dr Israel Hartman.

In terms of speed, Hartman notes that your endocrinologist can help you find your ideal pace by recommending a target heart rate. This can be monitored using a number of devices, including a wristband fitness tracker or a monitor that straps around your ribcage. Don’t want to use a tracker or get overly granular with your routine? As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to talk, but not sing, while you’re moving.

Getting started: Start with a daily 30-minute walk if you haven’t been active in a while. Then slowly build up from there. Tack on an extra five minutes every two or three weeks until you’ve built up to 45 to 60 minutes, Dr Hartman suggests. Don’t have a big block of time? Try breaking up your activity. Walking for 15 minutes after each meal may be just as effective for lowering blood sugar as a single 45-minute walk, found one study.


2) Yoga

Spending time on the mat is a proven stress reducer, and that sweet relief can actually have a beneficial effect on your blood sugar. How? Rising stress hormones like cortisol can signal the body to release excess insulin, causing your blood sugar to spike. “The controlled breathing and stretching movements can help to reduce circulating stress hormones, which in turn can reduce insulin and blood glucose levels,” says personal trainer Erin Palinski-Wade.

Getting started: The best way to learn yoga is by attending a beginner yoga class. Or, if your budget allows, take a private lesson or two first before joining a larger group. You may want to give the instructor a heads up about your diabetes, too. “If you have neuropathy or retinopathy, it’s important to share with your instructor any forms of activity you need to avoid so they can provide ways to modify,” Palinski-Wade says.


3) Resistance training

Stronger, more toned muscles don’t just look good-they actually play an essential role in keeping your blood sugar in check. The more you work your muscles, the more glucose they use up for fuel. As a result, the glucose levels in your blood stay lower, even when you’re at rest, Dr Hartman explains. Plus, muscle tissue burns more kilojoules than fat, so the more muscle you have, the easier it is to manage your weight.

Getting started: Aim to do strength training activities (like using free weights or weight machines) that work all of your major muscle groups twice a week. “If you don’t have weights, you can do other muscle-building exercises such as squats or sit-ups,” Dr Hartman says.


4) Swimming

Like walking, swimming is an aerobic exercise that burns kilojoules and promotes steady blood sugar levels. And in some cases, it might even be better than exercising on your feet. “For many individuals who have diabetes complications like neuropathy, which can cause pain when walking, swimming can be a great alternative,” Palinski-Wade says.

Make sure to wear sturdy sandals or water shoes when you’re walking around the pool if foot numbness is an issue for you. They’ll help protect your feet from potential cuts or scrapes that can lead to infections, she says.

Getting started: If you’re new to swimming or haven’t swam in a while, use a kickboard to swim laps for 30-minutes three or four times per week. After swimming the length of the pool and back, take a 30-second break to catch your breath. As you improve your fitness over time, you can ditch the kickboard and advance to the back, breast, or free stroke. You can also slowly tack on additional time as you get more comfortable.


5) Tai chi

The Chinese martial art is another potent stress reducer, thanks to its emphasis on flowing motions and deep breathing. (When you practice tai chi outside, it can help reduce stress even further.) That’s important for people with diabetes, since high levels of stress hormones like cortisol can throw your blood sugar off-kilter, says Dr Hartman. In fact, one small study found that a regular tai chi practice resulted in lower blood sugar levels among adults with type 2 diabetes after just eight weeks.

Getting started: Look for a local class in your area. Often groups will meet in parks, community centers, schools, and gyms.


Sourced from Prevention.