Great Exercises for People With Diabetes

A professor of exercise science, Sheri Colberg-Ochs, Ph.D. at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. Studies show as few as 39 % of people with type 2 diabetes participate in the regular physical activity, compared with 58 % of other Americans. And that’s a disgrace because working out can help develop insulin action and keep blood sugars in check. Exercise also benefits you to lose weight and improve balance, important because many people with type 2 diabetes are at risk for obesity and for falls.

Here are six great workouts you can easily work into your daily routine. Be sure to review with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen.


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Walking is easy for people to do. Colberg-Ochs states. ‘All you need is a good set of shoes and somewhere to go. Walking is apparently one of the most prescribed exercises for people with type 2 diabetes.’ Brisk walking done at a speed to raise the heart rate is an aerobic exercise, and studies show beneficial results when people with diabetes participate in aerobic activities at least 3 days a week for a total of 150 minutes.

Tai Chi

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Tai chi, a series of movements done in a slow and relaxed manner over 30 minutes, has been exercised for centuries. At least one small study has proved it is an excellent choice of exercise for type 2 diabetes. Colberg-Ochs states. Tai chi is ideal for people with diabetes because it gives fitness and stress reduction in one. Tai chi also increases balance and may reduce nerve damage, a common diabetic complication, although the latter benefit remains unproven.

Weight Training

Tired girl after weight lifting

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Colberg-Ochs says. ‘ I can’t say enough about the advantages of weight training, not just for people with diabetes but for everyone, Weight training strengthens muscle mass, necessary for those with type 2 diabetes. If you lose muscle mass, you have a lot harder time sustaining your blood sugar.’ Plan for resistance exercise or weight training at least twice a week as part of your diabetic management plan and three is ideal, but always maintain a rest day between weight workouts. Each session should include 5 to 10 various types of lifting including the major muscle groups. For optimal strength gains, work your way up to doing 3 to 4 sets of each exercise, with each set including 10 to 15 repetitions.


Yoga class

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A number of studies prove that if you have diabetes, yoga can benefit you in many ways. Yoga can help reduce body fat, fight insulin resistance, and increase nerve function, all important when you have type 2 diabetes. Like tai chi, yoga is also a big diabetic stress reducer. Colberg-Ochs said; ‘When stress levels rise, so do your blood sugar levels. One of the benefits of yoga as an exercise is that you can do it as frequently as you like.


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Swimming is another aerobic activity and a perfect one for people with type 2 diabetes because it doesn’t put stress on your joints.Colberg-Ochs says. ‘Being buoyed by the water is less stressful for you,’ Swimming also is relaxed on your feet than other forms of exercise, such as walking or jogging. Very often diabetes decreases blood flow to the small blood vessels of your feet and you can lose feeling in your feet as a result. People with diabetes must avoid foot wounds, even minor cuts or blisters because they can be slow to ease and are prone to infection. Special shoes made for use in the pool can support prevent scraped feet and lessen the chance of slipping.

Stationary Bicycling

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Bicycling is also a kind of aerobic exercise, one that makes your heart active and your lungs function better. A stationary bike is perfect for people with diabetes because you can do it inside, no matter the climate, and you don’t have to worry about falling or having a flat and being a long way from home. Bicycling increases blood flow to your legs. A great advantage for people with diabetes and consumes lots of calories to keep your weight at good levels.

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