Have diabetes? Exercise is one of the best ways to control your weight and blood sugar.
Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you’re exempt from exercise. On the contrary, besides diet and medication, exercise is an essential part of controlling the disease. The benefits of exercise for diabetics can’t be ignored. It helps control blood sugar, burns fat, lowers blood pressure, builds muscle, improves circulation, boosts energy, strengthens your heart, reduces bad cholesterol, and manages stress.
An exercise program that includes both strength training and cardio exercise provides the greatest health benefit for diabetics. Talk with your doctor today about starting the following exercise programs.
Lifting weights is a highly effective way to control your blood sugar. When you regularly work your muscles they absorb more sugar. Strength training is also a great way to boost your metabolism and burn calories—not just during exercise, but throughout the day.
Aim to perform strength-training exercises two to three days a week, every other day. Develop a routine that focuses on each of your major muscle groups (legs, arms, back, chest, shoulders, and core). Start with small weights and slowly increase your resistance over time. Do several sets of 5 to 10 reps for each exercise.
Examples of simple strength-training exercises anyone can do at home or at the gym, under the watchful eye of your trainer, include bicep curls, triceps extensions, squats, lunges, hamstring curls, shoulder presses, chest presses, crunches, and planks.
To manage diabetes well, you should also include cardio or aerobic exercise inyour weekly routine. Cardio exercise is the kind that gets your heart pumping and your breathing elevated, strengthening your heart, muscles, and lungs. Along with strength training, cardio exercise helps your body burn extra glucose, decreases your body’s resistance to insulin, and helps your muscles know better how to respond to insulin.
Ideally, you will incorporate 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise into your weekly routine. You can do this with 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, 50 minutes three days a week, or even 15 minutes workouts ten times a week. Whatever it takes, make it part of your lifestyle and stick with it.
The simple act of walking is a wonderful starting exercise for diabetics. It’s easy, accessible, and all you need is a pair of comfortable, supportive shoes. Take a walk first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or with your family after dinner. Incorporate more walking in your daily life. Take the stairs rather than the elevator or park in the farthest spot. Wearing a pedometer can help motivate you toward the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
There are numerous other kinds of cardiovascular exercise besides walking. The key is to find the one you enjoy so you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Swimming, jogging, cycling, tennis, basketball, aerobics, dancing, and working in the yard are just a few options.
If you’re living with diabetes and are new to exercise or out of shape, you’ll need to get your doctor’s approval before beginning an exercise program. Additionally, you may need to track your blood sugar levels prior to, during, and following exercise so you know how your body responds to physical activity. Depending on these records, you may have to adjust your insulin dosage or keep snacks or glucose tablets readily available in the event you have low blood sugar.
As a word of caution, if you’re living with diabetes-related eye conditions like retinopathy that have not been treated, do not lift weights or perform intense cardio exercise as these activities increase pressure in the eyes and can be very dangerous.
Otherwise, get started on your exercise routine today! Take control of your health, manage your diabetes, and lose weight with exercise.
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