How Exercising Can Help People Manage Diabetes
There are some risk factors to watch out for that may indeed increase your chances of diabetes, like being older than 45, having PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), family history (including vascular disease) and being overweight or obese.
These are just a few of the many risk factors out there. But let us not dwell on the bad. Instead, let us offer you a way to maintain your blood glucose levels in hopes of keeping diabetes (and many other diseases) at bay.
There are many ways to control one sugar levels and manage one’s diabetes. At the top of the list, we have healthy nutrition and proper exercise. Today we’ll be focusing on the latter.
Did you know that with every kilogram of weight loss, you also reduce your risk of diabetes by 16%, of course with adjusted diet and physical activity? (1) That’s right! There are many types of exercises out there, but we’ll focus on two types: strength training and aerobic exercise.
Let’s start by getting into more details concerning aerobic exercise.
All About Aerobic Exercise
It aids your body in making better use of insulin.
But it can also relieve stress, makes your bones and heart stronger (it also reduces your risk of heart disease), improves your blood circulation and lowers your blood pressure and blood glucose and even improves your cholesterol levels!
How Much Is Ideal?
You shouldn’t overdo it. 30 minutes of aerobic exercise ranging from moderate to vigorous intensity for at least five days of the week should be quite enough. In other words, it should be a total of 150 minutes of exercise on a weekly basis.
It’s advisable to spread the activity to at least 3 week days and make sure not skip exercising for more than 2 days in a row.
How Can You Measure the Intensity?
Think of it this way. Moderate means that you are capable of talking during the exercise, but not singing. Vigorous on the other hand means you can only say a few words before running out of breath during the activity.
How to Get Started?
If you haven’t had much activity recently, it’s best to start slow and easy. You can start at about 5 to 10 minutes per day. Then slowly but surely start increasing the activity by a few minutes with every passing week.
As time passes and this grows into a healthy routine, you’ll discover that you can do more and more without getting tired. Needless to say, your fitness will improve.
For absolute beginners, here’s a starting walking plan. You can see it here.
Some people’s find their schedule is simply too full and they are too busy to find 30 minutes to complete the activities. In that case, you can instead try dividing that half hour into 3 sessions of 10 minutes each.
Studies show it has similar health results.
For instance, it’s a good idea to take a 10-minute brisk walk after you’ve finished a meal. Or, another option you can try is to do 15 minutes of aerobics in the morning before you head on to your work and then 15 more when you come back.
For those of you looking to lose some weight and not gain it back (yo-yo effect danger!), it is preferable to do about 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
Which Aerobic Exercises to Do?
There’s plenty of activities you can try. Simple give them all a shot if you’re able and see which one best suits you personally. Or, change it up by combining them or switching from one to the other, variety is always best!
We’ve made a list for you:
- Taking brisk walks (whether outside or inside on a treadmill makes no difference)
- Do some cycling (again, whether outside or inside on a stationary bike, your choice)
- Shake it up with some dancing
- Try some low-Impact aerobics
- Water aerobics or swimming
- Play some tennis
- Climb some stairs
- Run or jog
- Do some hiking
- You can also try rowing
- Roller-skating or ice-skating is also good
- If you have the chance, do some cross-country skiing
- If you have a garden, do some moderate or heavy gardening
Start Doing Some Strength Training
It is also called resistance training is great for everyone, especially for people with diabetes because it lowers your glucose levels and makes you more sensitive to insulin. It also helps to strengthen your bones and muscles.
That way it reduces your risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. And the golden rule for all is that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you end up burning – and this even when you are resting.
And as you age, you will find that you need and want to keep as much muscle mass as you can, and this is where strength training is so useful for you.
Our recommendation is to do any kind of strength training for at least two times each week. This, of course, in addition to the aerobic activity you are doing.
Here are some neat strength training examples you can try your hand at:
- Free weights or weight machines at the gym
- Use some resistance bands
- Do some natural lifting at home. This can be anything, from canned goods to bottles of water
- Exercises that use your own body weight to build muscle mass, also called calisthenics (examples are sit-ups, planks, squats and pushups)
- Go to classes that involve strength training
- Heavy gardening or other activities that help build muscle
Of course, these are not the only ones out there. You should do some experimenting, and in time you will find that being active and leading a life full of healthy, moderate exercises is indeed your ticket to better health overall!
Sources: Diabetes; YMCA