Diabetes is a serious medical condition. In the United States over 30 million people have currently been diagnosed with the disease — that’s nearly ten percent of the population. Doctors and researchers in the field are encouraging diabetics, and prediabetics, to take charge of their condition in the areas of diet and exercise, to insure better health and modify symptoms.
Strength training and aerobic exercise are two of the main types of activity that have shown very positive results when practiced regularly by diabetics. And if you’re looking for custom health plans to supplement your condition or help defray some of the costs associated with it, there’s a few really good plans available in the previous link.
This type of exercise encourages the more efficient use of insulin in your body. It’s a good way to increase bone and heart strength. Aerobic exercise has been proven to relieve stress and is known to improve the circulation of blood. A moderate workout can lower both blood pressure and blood glucose, and help keep down the level of cholesterol.
The goal here for most diabetics is a half hour of moderate/vigorous (depending on your current health) intensity aerobic exercise a minimum of five days each week — that would be about two and a half hours a week. Don’t try to do it all at once in one day. That’s overkill. Do it over the whole week and strive never to go more than two days in a row without a workout.
A moderate workout is classified as one where you can talk, but don’t have enough breath to sing during the exercise. A vigorous workout won’t let you say more than a few words at a time. Again, please take into consideration your own physical health, your age, weight, and if you’re recovering from an illness such as a cold or the flu.
Walking is a great way to get in an aerobic workout each day. Don’t obsess about finding the time — if a thirty minute session is impractical, you can break it up into ten minutes here and there during the day; the benefits will be just as good.
Also called strength training, this type of workout helps your body become more sensitive to insulin levels and will lower glucose levels. With strength training the object is to build up more muscle — and that, in turn, forces your body to burn more calories, even when you’re sitting or sleeping! Another plus is that this type of training prevents muscular atrophy — the shrinking of muscle tissue — which is crucial to keeping an independent lifestyle as the years go by.
For optimum benefits, combine your aerobic routine with resistance training at least twice each week. Here are a few examples of strength training:
Weight machines or free weights at the gym or local recreation center.
Resistance bands (these are very handy for home use, and can be taken with you on vacations, business trips, etc.)
If going out to exercise is not practical, you can lift things like water bottles and canned goods at home (but don’t try this in the grocery store — you may get some odd looks!)
Take a strength training class — it’s easier to do, and more fun, when you’re around other people.
And, of course, you can combine aerobics with resistance training simply by taking along some light hand weights while you walk, or attach a pair of ankle weights as you stroll (briskly) around the park or to work.