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Exercise is an important part of managing diabetes. It can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. It also has many other health benefits, including strength



 A good way to manage diabetes is with exercise and an effective diet ( A Registered Dietician can help with proper diet).

Exercise helps reduce blood glucose levels which can lead to increased insulin sensitivity, counteracting insulin resistance. Exercise for diabetes also strengthens bones and muscles, decreases anxiety, aids in weight control, lowers blood pressure, and improves general health.

In this blog post, we discuss the benefits of exercise and ten types of different exercises that you can perform easily at your home.


Benefits of Exercises for Diabetics

The benefits of exercise for individuals with diabetes, or almost any other condition, are significant. Exercise increases the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, enhances blood pressure, reduces the level of low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides, protects muscles and bones, reduces anxiety, and helps in maintaining a healthy weight.

Exercise offers diabetics additional benefits: it decreases blood sugar levels and as mentioned previously, enhances insulin sensitivity, thereby counteracting insulin resistance.

Here are some of the highlighted findings on the benefits of exercise for individuals with diabetes:

·         A study revealed that people with diabetes from various ethnic backgrounds, following different medications and diets, experienced a 0.7 percentage point reduction in their HbA1c levels through exercise, even without weight loss.

·         Any form of exercise—resistance training, aerobic training, or a combination of both—proved equally effective in reducing HbA1c levels in diabetics.

·         Previously inactive older adults at risk for diabetes and abdominal obesity saw improvements in insulin resistance with both resistance training and aerobic exercise. Combining these exercise forms was more beneficial than performing each separately.

·         Diabetes patients who walked at least two hours per week had a lower risk of heart disease death compared to their sedentary peers. Those who exercised for three to four hours per week had an even greater reduction in risk.

·         Women suffering from diabetes who engaged in moderate—which includes walking—or intense exercise for at least four hours per week were 40% less likely to develop heart disease than non-exercising women. Even after the researchers controlled for confounding variables like smoking, BMI, and other heart disease risk factors, these benefits remained.

·         It is generally recommended to exercise about one to three hours after a meal, as this is when blood sugar levels tend to be higher. Testing your blood sugar before exercising is crucial if you use insulin. If your blood sugar is below 100 mg/dL, having a modest snack or a piece of fruit beforehand can help prevent hypoglycemia.

·         You can determine whether your blood sugar level is steady by testing again after 30 minutes. Checking your blood sugar after an especially strenuous exercise or activity is also a good idea. The peak period for hypoglycemia if you take insulin is six to twelve hours after working out

10 Best Exercises For Diabetes

1.      Walking

You do not require a gym membership or fancy exercise gear to get started. If you have comfortable shoes and an appropriate location to walk, you can begin right away. In fact, you can fulfill your suggested aerobic fitness target by opting for a fast thirty minutes of walking five days a week.

A 2021 review found that walking can assist persons with type 2 diabetes reduce body mass index, HbA1c levels, and their blood pressure(1). 

2.      Cycling

Arthritis affects approximately 50% of individuals with type 2 diabetes. Both diseases are associated with obesity, which is one of several risk factors.

Persons with type 2 diabetes may experience joint discomfort due to diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which the nerves are affected(2). 

If you are experiencing low-level joint discomfort, it may be beneficial to engage in low-impact exercise. For instance, cycling can assist in attaining your fitness objectives while simultaneously alleviating the strain on your joints.

Engage in moderate-intensity cycling for 30-60 minutes, three to five times per week.

3. Swimming/Water Based Exercises

Aquatic activities are another joint-friendly workout option. Aqua jogging, water aerobics, Swimming, and other aquatic exercises can engage your lungs, heart, and muscles while putting little strain on your joints.  Your local wellness center may offer water aerobic classes!

According to a 2017 review water exercise can assist reduce blood sugar levels in the same way that land exercise does(3).

So, try to engage in moderate-intensity swimming or aquatic exercises 3 times per week for 30 to 45 minutes.

4. Pilates

Pilates is a widely recognized form of exercise  that is designed to enhance abdominal strength, coordination, and balance. Pilates may also be beneficial for managing blood sugar levels, as indicated by a 2020 study of elderly adult women with type 2 diabetes(4).

Consider enrolling in a Pilates class at your local gym or Pilates studio. There are many online sources, videos and books are also available for different budgets.

It is recommended to practice low to moderate-intensity Pilates 2-3 times per week for 45-60 minutes.

5. Team Sports

Consider participating in a recreational sports team if you are experiencing difficulty motivating yourself to exercise. The motivation to attend each week may be derived from your dedication to your colleagues and your ability to socialize with them.  Many of my patients that are in their late 70s are active team sport players, tennis, pickleball, basketball, etc…

Dr. Manny Recommends:  Participate in moderate-intensity team sports 2 times per week for 60 minutes to stay motivated and active.

6. Aerobic Dance

Signing up for aerobic dancing may also help you achieve your workout goals. For example, Zumba is a fitness program that blends dance and aerobic motions to provide a high-energy exercise.

A 2015 study discovered that after sixteen weeks of Zumba lessons, type 2 diabetic women were more motivated to exercise. Participants increased their aerobic fitness and reduced weight(5).

So, try to Perform this exercise for twenty minutes of dance thrice a week

7. Resistance Band Exercises

Weights are great for strength training, however they may not be convenient or accessible for some people. The good news is that  you can also use resistance bands for a range of strengthening exercises (You don’t need to look like you are going to compete in the IBF pro!!!).

If you want to learn how to incorporate them into your workouts, it's a good idea to seek guidance from a professional trainer, join a resistance band class, or check out a resistance band training video.

According to a 2018 study, exercising with resistance bands may improve blood sugar control in addition to building strength(6).

Perform moderate-intensity resistance band exercises 2-3 times per week for 30-45.

8. Weightlifting

Weightlifting and other forms of strength training are effective forms of exercise that can promote an increase in muscle mass. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on your daily calorie burn. As per the American Diabetes Association, strength training has the potential to assist in managing blood sugar levels(7).

Incorporating weightlifting into your weekly fitness routine is a great way to enhance your strength and overall fitness. You can use using free weights, kettlebells, dumbbells , weight machines, or other items including household items to increase strength (increase is proportional to the intensity and load).

Consider enrolling in a weightlifting class or seeking guidance from a qualified fitness professional to ensure an appropriate  weight lifting program meant to progress you accordingly and help prevent injury.

A good frequency for weightlifting is light to  moderate-intensity weightlifting 2-3 times per week depending on your initial fitness level ( the fitness professional will develop a progression chart for you).

9. Calisthenics/ Bodyweight Exercises

Calisthenics involves using your own body weight to improve your muscles. Lunges, squats, pullups, pushups, and belly crunches are all common calisthenics exercises.

With bodyweight exercises, your own body weight will help condition your muscles, you can  work out different muscle groups.

Experts suggest taking a break from muscle-strengthening exercises between strength training sessions to give your body time to heal.

 

Do moderate-intensity calisthenics exercises 3 times per week for 30-45 minutes.

 

10. Yoga

Based on a 2016 review, yoga has been found to be beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes in managing their weight, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar.  It may also assist in reducing blood pressure, improving sleep quality, and boosting mood(8).

If you're interested in giving yoga a shot, consider signing up for a class at a nearby studio or gym. An experienced instructor can guide you in smoothly moving from one pose to another, ensuring that you maintain proper posture and focus on your breathing techniques.

Does exercising more affect my prescription dosages?

Type 2 diabetes medications function in various ways. Some aid in raising insulin levels, while others reduce the absorption of glucose. However, they're all meant to regulate your blood sugar.

Furthermore, we are aware that exercise has an impact on blood sugar levels. For instance, after working out, exercise might drop your blood sugar for up to 24 hours. Your prescription amounts may therefore change if you exercise regularly. You may need to take less insulin if you take it to avoid hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

For this reason, it's crucial that you consult your healthcare professional before beginning an exercise regimen. To better understand how different activities influence your body, your provider may advise you to monitor your blood sugar before and after your workout. Additionally, they can modify the dosages of your prescriptions.

Conclusion

Incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle is a powerful tool for managing diabetes and enhancing overall health. The benefits of exercise for diabetics extend beyond blood sugar control to include improved cardiovascular health, stronger muscles and bones, reduced anxiety, and better weight management. Whether you prefer walking, cycling, swimming, Pilates, team sports, aerobic dance, resistance band exercises, weightlifting, calisthenics, or yoga, there's a suitable and enjoyable activity for everyone.

By adhering to the recommended frequency and intensity for each type of exercise, you can effectively manage your diabetes while boosting your physical and mental well-being. Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regimen to ensure it's safe and appropriate for your individual health needs.

Manuel Arruffat PT DPT

PES, CES, SSC, FMS, SFMA

References

1.            Moghetti P, Balducci S, Guidetti L, Mazzuca P, Rossi E, Schena F, et al. Walking for subjects with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and joint AMD/SID/SISMES evidence-based practical guideline. Sport Sciences for Health. 2021;17(1):1-20.

2.            Panter J, Ogilvie D. Cycling and diabetes prevention: practice-based evidence for public health action. PLoS Medicine. 2016;13(7):e1002077.

3.            Rees JL, Johnson ST, Boulé NG. Aquatic exercise for adults with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Acta Diabetol. 2017;54(10):895-904.

4.            Melo KCB, Araújo FdS, Cordeiro Júnior CCM, de Andrade KTP, Moreira SR. Pilates Method Training: Functional and Blood Glucose Responses of Older Women With Type 2 Diabetes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2020;34(4):1001-7.

5.            Krishnan S, Tokar TN, Boylan MM, Griffin K, Feng D, McMurry L, et al. Zumba® dance improves health in overweight/obese or type 2 diabetic women. Am J Health Behav. 2015;39(1):109-20.

6.            McGinley SK, Armstrong MJ, Boulé NG, Sigal RJ. Effects of exercise training using resistance bands on glycaemic control and strength in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Acta diabetologica. 2015;52:221-30.

7.            Bhargava Y, Bopardikar A, Bland M, editors. Diabetes and Composition of Weight Lifting and Cardio in Exercise. 2020 42nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society (EMBC); 2020: IEEE.

8.            Innes KE, Selfe TK. Yoga for Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review of Controlled Trials. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2016;2016:6979370.

 

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This information is full of exclusive exercising details that can drastically improve the health without becoming physically and mentally overwhelmed . Nobody, mainly the elderly, should discard this valuable information.

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