6 Great Exercises for People With Diabetes

Aug 02, 2011
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According to the American Diabetes Association, there are approximately 25 million children and adults who are diagnosed with diabetes. And just last year, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed. Diabetes is a serious disease, which requires daily monitoring, a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise.

Exercise is an important factor in maintaining overall good health for everyone, especially for individuals with diabetes. Studies show as few as 39 percent of people with type 2 diabetes participate in regular physical activity, compared with 58 percent of other Americans. The fact is that exercise can help increase insulin action and keep blood sugars in check. Regular exercise can help to lose weight, and improve balance; and this is important because many people with type 2 diabetes are at risk for obesity and for falls.

Listed below are six great exercises for people with diabetes.

Walking done at a pace to raise the heart rate is an aerobic exercise, and studies show beneficial effects when people with diabetes participate in aerobic activities at least three days a week for a total of 150 minutes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends people not go more than two consecutive days without an aerobic exercise session.

Tai Chi is ideal for people with diabetes because it provides fitness and stress reduction in one. Tai chi also improves balance and may reduce nerve damage, a common diabetic complication, although the latter benefit remains unproven.

Weight Training builds muscle mass, important for those with type 2 diabetes. If you lose muscle mass, you have a lot harder time maintaining your blood sugar. Plan for resistance exercise or weight training at least twice a week as part of your diabetic management plan — three is ideal, but always schedule a rest day between weight workouts (other exercise is fine on those days).

Yoga can help lower body fat, fight insulin resistance, and improve nerve function — all important when you have type 2 diabetes. Like tai chi, yoga is also a great diabetic stress reducer. When stress levels go higher, so do your blood sugar levels. One of the advantages of yoga as an exercise is that you can do it as often as you like.

Swimming is ideal for people with type 2 diabetes — doesn’t put pressure on joints. Swimming also is easier on your feet than other forms of exercise. Very often diabetes reduces blood flow to the small blood vessels of your extremities and you can lose sensation in your feet as a result. People with diabetes must avoid foot injuries, even minor cuts or blisters; because they are prone to infection (a good idea is water shoes).

Stationary Bike is ideal for people with diabetes because you can do it inside, no matter the weather, and you don’t have to worry about falling or having a flat and being a long way from home. Bicycling improves blood flow to your legs — a great benefit for people with diabetes — and burns lots of calories to keep your weight at healthy levels.

Author: Jenny Carlton