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Managing Diabetes with Exercise

By Aarti Patel Email By Aarti Patel
November 2014
Managing Diabetes with Exercise

November is National Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes. Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Regular exercise is important in managing diabetes, lowering your blood glucose, and managing weight. Two types of physical activity are highly recommended for managing diabetes: aerobic exercise and strength training. Aerobic exercise, which uses the major muscles of the body in a moderate or vigorous intensity, is great for the heart, improves cholesterol, blood pressure, and circulation, and relieves stress. Strength training builds strong muscles and bones, reduces the risk of falls, and lowers the risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. Both types of exercise have an insulin-like effect on our bodies, thereby lowering blood glucose levels as working muscles use glucose for energy.

Examples of aerobic exercises are brisk walking, rowing, biking, jogging, swimming, dancing, etc. Aim for 30-40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on most days of the week.

While aerobic exercise seems quite straightforward, strength training can be somewhat challenging as some knowledge of strength training exercises is required. There are many types of strength training exercises which can be performed in a variety of different ways. Strength training can be performed with weight training equipment at the gym, resistance bands, using your own body weight, or dumbbells. Strength training should be performed 2-3 times a week, one exercise per major muscle group, on alternate days. If you are new to strength training, it is always advisable to consult a qualified fitness professional to create an individualized strength training program based on your fitness level and health history.

Here are some basic strength training exercises which can be done at home.

Wall pushups: This is a great upper body exercise. Stand a foot away from the wall. Now, with your hands, lean on the wall with your body at an angle and perform pushups. Start with 10-15 repetitions and work your way up.

Bicep curls: Sit on a chair. Hold 2 lb dumbbells in each hand (you may use soup cans or full water bottles, or even milk jugs filled with equal parts of sand). Let your arms hang at your sides. Now bend from the elbows and curl in and slowly back down again. Do 10-15 repetitions and then increase the number over a period of time.

Triceps extension: Still seated, hold a half full milk jug with both of your hands above your head. Lower the jug slowly behind your head by bending your elbows. Do 10-15 repetitions and then increase.

Shoulder press: Seated, hold a water bottle in each hand close to your ears with upper arms parallel to the floor. Raise both arms above your head and then slowly lower them back to start position. Do 10-15 repetitions and then increase over a period of time.

Squats: Stand about a foot away from a chair. Slowly lower your buttocks to touch the edge of the chair (as if you are going to sit on the chair). Then raise your body up. Do 10-15 repetitions and then increase.

Dumbbell rows: Holding a dumbbell in each hand and seated on the edge of a chair, keep your back flat and slowly bend over. With arms straight down at your side slowly row back with dumbbells next to your waist and then lower. Do 10-15 repetitions and increase over time.

The exercises in this article are provided as general information only. Please consult your doctor and/or fitness professional before beginning an exercise program.

[Aarti Patel serves as the columnist for Fitness Lifestyle. She has a B.Sc. in Health Information Administration and is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal and Group Fitness Instructor, and Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach. She can be reached at (404)-376-5655; info@aartifitness.com. This column rotates monthly along with the Ask the Doctor column by Gulshan Harjee, M.D.]

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