Top 8 Exercises For Diabetics

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As a diabetic, you need to find ways to control your blood sugar levels. Getting your diabetes under control will help to prevent infection and other serious health problems. This is more than just following a healthy and balanced diet that is low in simple carbs and refined sugar.

You need to focus on exercise. Doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week will help you keep your glucose levels to a minimum. You support your whole system, boosting the release of happy hormones and reducing your weight. In fact, exercise can help to reverse your diabetes, making it less likely that you will be on medication for the rest of your life.

The last thing you want to do is throw yourself into exercise, though. You want to focus on exercises that are light on your joints and will help build your muscles. It’s important to avoid injury, which is common for those new to exercise.

With that in mind, here are eight exercises that are perfect for diabetics to do daily.

Start Walking and Work Your Way Up

One of the best types of exercises to do when you’re starting out is walking. It does more than just get you from A to B. Walking is one of those lightweight exercises that gets your blood pumping and lungs working. It’s also prescribed by doctors around the country when it comes to their Type II diabetes patients.

We’re not talking about a gentle stroll here. When it comes to walking, you need to make sure you pick up the pace a little. Try a power walk or a level of intensity just slightly lower. It’s important to feel like it’s working your legs and your breathing to gain any benefit at all.

Try just three days a week of walking on your lunch break. You can work your way up to five days. Don’t forget to take a friend with you, so you have someone to talk to and keep you entertained. Or you can pick up your favorite music and listen to it on the way around.

As you get used to walking, you can pick up the pace to a jog and then to a run. What you don’t want to do is throw yourself right into running. It’s important to give your body chance to build up the core strength and leg strength before you start running to avoid injury to your ankles and knees.

There is various Couch to 5K training programs to help you build this type of fitness up. We don’t mean that you must run the full 5K if you don’t want, but it’s a good way to build your experience to walking and running up when you’re just beginning.

Focus on the Strength Training

While it may not seem like it, there is a lot to be said for strength training. This is one of the most effective types of workouts, whether you want to lose weight, tone up, or improve health. It doesn’t even matter which parts of the body you work on, as you will get the overall benefits anyway. Of course, if you physically can, you want to work on strengthening the whole body.

Strength training builds your muscle mass. If you have Type II diabetes, it’s essential that you maintain and build your muscle mass. This helps to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Plus, as you build more muscle, your body burns more calories on a regular basis. And as your muscles repair after a workout, you continue to burn extra calories for up to 48 hours after your workout. You’ll constantly work a calorie deficit, if you focus on a healthy and weight loss friendly diet.

You want to include at least two strength training workouts on a weekly basis. Three is even better, but we get that you’ll want to build your way up to this.

Don’t worry about affording a gym pass for the weight machines. You can do it all through bodyweight exercises. These include push-ups, crunches, leg raises, Spider-Man poses, and more.

Do 5-10 exercises on all the major muscle groups with each session that you do if you can. You can always spend a day working on one muscle group and then the next day working on another. This will give your muscles a chance to repair and get ready for the next session you do on them.

You will find the workouts are hard at first. Don’t be afraid to do fewer repetitions if you need to. Your strength will build, and you’ll be able to do 10-15 repetitions of every single exercise that you need.

Give Yoga a Try for Balance and Tone

I must admit that I was a naysayer on yoga until I tried it with a professional. It is one of the best workouts you will get for relieving stress, connecting with your soul, and strengthening your body at the same time. All these three benefits will do one thing for your diabetes: keep it under control.

There’s no denying that your blood sugars raise when your stress levels do. It’s essential that you keep your stress levels under control as much as possible and there’s only so much that deep breathing will do! Yoga is a way that allows you to connect deeper and focus on a more spiritual level when something happens.

At the same time, yoga will help to reduce your body fat and fight against insulin resistance. Both are highly beneficial as a diabetic. Your insulin resistance is what causes your body to produce more insulin. You’re left with insulin left over, while all the sugar has left your body. More fat means that the blood sugar levels spike, cause more insulin to be released. You get this horrible cycle that just doesn’t stop.

Yoga will also help to improve your balance. As a diabetic, you will find balance harder to maintain. And we naturally lose balance as we get older. So, you want to find a way to maintain it. With yoga, you’ll go in positions that help to build the strength in the muscles to maintain the ability to keep you stationary for longer periods of time.

Another major benefit is improving your nerve receptors. When you have diabetes, you may feel like your extremities lose their feeling. This affects the balance and can also lead to other major health problems. Improving your extremities and getting the blood flowing prevents further health complications.

Get Some Variety with Interval Training

Interval training has come out in recent years as one of the best ways to lose weight. Of course, weight loss will help you maintain your blood sugar levels and can help to reduce the effects of diabetes.

You may hear of interval training as spring training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or speed burst training. Some exercises classes like Tabata and circuits can also involve it, so look out for them. But you don’t need to do an exercise class. You can do it when you’re walking or working out in the gym if you want!

Interval training helps to boost your cardiovascular health and stamina. It involves training at your maximum effort for a short burst and then reducing that intensity to a lower rate to get your breath back and recover. This is only for a short time, and then you get another burst of ahigh-intensity workout.

Your body is constantly working hard, and your blood will flow naturally. You help to keep the glucose levels to a minimum naturally while getting the blood flowing into your extremities. Your body will hate it at the time, but your mind will thank you at the very end.

Try running at a higher pace when you’re out walking. Just do it for a 30-60 second period and then go right back to a walk for another minute or so. Do 10 repetitions of this and see how you feel afterward. It’s also possible to sprint up a hill and then walk back down it 10 times to get a similar workout.

You can also do this type of training on a treadmills, cross-trainer, and rower. It’s all about focusing on the higher intensity workouts followed by your lower intensity recovery periods. As you get better at the workouts, you’ll find the lower intensity workouts get shorter, or you can push yourself a little more.

How does this type of workout help your weight loss efforts? It keeps your heart working. You’ll find that your blood continues to pump and your metabolism works at a higher rate for hours after your workout. A normal, straight-intense workout will only burn extra calories while you do it.

Take the Pressure Off with Swimming

For those who are overweight, exercising outside or in a gym can feel a little off-putting. You don’t want others to see you and worry what they think. At the same time, they can be taxing on your joints. You need something that helps you work on your muscles and fitness without looks or injury.

This is where swimming is perfect. When you get into the water, nobody will see you. To be honest, nobody else working out cares what you look like, but at least in the water, you’re hidden from plain sight. Plus, in the water, you will feel weightless. The water holds your weight for you, improving buoyancy and capabilities.

The ability to take the pressure off your joints is excellent for type II diabetes sufferers. Diabetes can restrict the blood flow, meaning that you lose balance and feel tingling sensations on your feet. This can be dangerous and opens you up to injury. Balance issues don’t become a complication in the water—although if you feel dizzy, you shouldn’t exercise!

Those with diabetes will also find the healing process takes longer. Even just a blister will take a few extra days to heal, and you’re more prone to an infection. You want to avoid that from happening, which took to the water does.

You may find that you can do more in the pool. Remember that the water takes your weight, helping you to take that out of the equation when improving your fitness. If you’re not sure about doing lengths, look out for aquaerobics classes to help improve your fitness and enjoy your workouts.

Take Up Dancing as a Hobby

How about trying something a little different for a workout? Dancing isn’t just for kids or something you do at parties. It’s an adult activity that’s perfect for diabetes patients.

Because of your condition, your brain may not get all the oxygenated blood that it needs. This affects your concentration, memory, and other cognitive functions. When you dance, you’re forcing the brain to keep working. It needs to remember dance moves and positions.

It’s also a fun workout. You get the social interaction with others while boosting your metabolism. Weight loss is easier, and you can find that your flexibility improves. Let’s not forget that socializing and exercising in a fun way help to reduce stress. We’ve already noted that this is excellent for diabetes patients, as less stress means lower blood sugar levels.

If you have limited abilities, you could try chair dancing. This is available in many parts of the country, and there are home workouts that will incorporate this option.

Do Something Different with Tai Chi

All the above exercises are common. If you haven’t done them, you’ve likely heard of them. But what about tai chi? This is an exercise that is linked to martial arts and usually ignored in the Western world. Well, it’s time to stop ignoring it.

Tai chi incorporates slow and relaxed movements. Think of it as the yoga version of martial arts. It helps you relax, connect deep within, and build your flexibility. You’ll improve balance and your nerve receptors, reducing your blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. You only need to do it for 30 minutes a day to get the benefits.

Because of the slow movements, there are fewer risks of falling over and injury. We know that both are common problems in diabetics. If you don’t want to try tai chi, look for other balancing exercises that you can do at home instead.

Do Something that You Enjoy

The important thing is that you find an exercise to do daily. You want to follow a plan solidly for at least six weeks to give it a chance to become a habit. After that, you won’t find it’s as hard to stick to your exercise regime. It becomes part of your life.

Doing something that you enjoy is essential for routine. You don’t get bored, and there is less chance that you’ll think about skipping a day. You’ll certainly not dread your workout like you would if you despised it!

When you enjoy your exercise, you also gain more mental health benefits. Exercise naturally helps to release more happy hormones, but doing something you hate will also release the negative hormones. When you do something that you love, you keep the stress hormones at bay and only reap all the benefits.

Take Control of Your Diabetes

Don’t let diabetes control your life. You can control it by following the right lifestyle. Exercise is an essential part of a healthy life as a diabetic. It’s important to start off small and work your way up to improve your overall life and avoid the risk of injuries. Follow the above exercises, and you will find that you gain more than just weight loss and mental health boosts. You could reverse your diabetes and gain control of your whole life.

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  • Susan Langer
    June 21, 2017

    Great article to review. Since I have stopped binge-eating (also with some help from medication and counseling) I have been able to come off of diabetic meds including insulin. I’ve also begun to lose weight without anything but following my diabetic diet and joining a gym for free (Silver Feet) and work out 2-3 times a week. Thanks for the article. It is true that with some lifestyle changes you can improve your health and outlook.

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