Exercising regularly is an important part of staying healthy and managing diabetes, but it can be tricky to know which exercises are safe and effective. From jogging to running, swimming to strength training, and home workouts to group classes, there are endless possibilities when it comes to working out with diabetes. But not all exercises are created equal.
Pick exercises that will help control your diabetes and reduce your risk of developing other health complications. You should also pick exercises you enjoy and will stick with. Here are the best and safest exercises for people with diabetes:
Walking is one of the simplest and most effective exercises you can do to manage diabetes. It's a low-impact form of exercise that doesn't put too much stress on your joints and muscles, making it a safe choice for people with diabetes. Walking is also an easy way to get started with exercise if you're not used to being active.
You can start by walking around your neighborhood or taking a short walk every day. As you become more fit, you can increase the intensity of your walk by walking faster or uphill. Even if you're dealing with mobility issues, getting diabetes health supplies, such as walking canes and walkers, can help make walking easier and safer. Make use of daily living aids to help you stay active.
To make walking more fun, consider:
- Bringing headphones to listen to an audiobook or music
- Walking with a friend or family member
- Exploring new trails or routes
- Joining a walking group in your neighborhood
- Participating in walking events in your community
- Investing in a good pair of walking shoes—opt for orthopedic shoes if your have diabetic-related foot problems
Swimming is another great exercise option; it's low-impact and helps improve cardiovascular health. It's also a great way to stay cool in the summer months. Swimming can be done at any fitness level, making it an inclusive exercise choice. If you don't know how to swim, plenty of beginner classes are available. If you're more comfortable swimming on your own, start by swimming laps at a slow pace.
As you get stronger, you can increase the intensity of your swim. Remember to drink plenty of water before and after swimming to stay hydrated. Living with diabetes means being mindful of your hydration levels, so carrying a water bottle with you at all times is a good idea.
Cycling is also a good choice; it strengthens the lower body, burns calories, and can easily be done indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors on a regular bike. If you cycle outdoors, be sure to wear a helmet and follow the traffic laws in your area. Cycling is a great way to get some exercise if walking is difficult for you.
Like other exercises, start with a slow pace and gradually increase the intensity as you go. For people living with diabetes, it's important to take extra precautions when cycling outdoors:
- Carry your diabetes management supplies with you, such as a glucose meter to check your blood sugar levels.
- Carry snacks for a quick energy boost and water. For snacks, opt for natural sugar substitutes for diabetics, such as miracle berries, stevia, or fresh fruit.
- Wear reflective gear to make yourself more visible to drivers.
- Plan your route ahead of time so you know where all the restrooms and water fountains are located in case you need them.
Strength training exercises can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. They can also help you lose weight, which is important for managing diabetes. You can do strength-training exercises with dumbbells, resistance bands, or your own body weight. If you're new to strength training, starting with simple exercises and gradually increasing the intensity is a good idea.
Here are some strength training exercises to get you started:
Remember to warm up before you start strength training and to cool down when you're finished. Warming up helps prevent injuries and cooling down helps your muscles recover.
Yoga can help regulate blood sugar levels, improve breathing, and increase flexibility. There are different types of yoga, so you can find a class that's right for your fitness level or even watch Youtube videos. It's important to choose a style of yoga that doesn't put too much strain on your body. Avoid hot yoga classes or anything that's too strenuous. Instead, opt for a gentle or moderate class. You can also combine yoga with mindfulness exercises.
Before you start yoga, let your instructor know that you have diabetes. This way, they can give you modifications for the poses and help you stay safe during class. Yoga is a great way to relax and de-stress, which is important for people with diabetes. Stress can cause blood sugar levels to spike, so it's important to find ways to relax. Some of the best yoga exercises for people with diabetes include:
- Mountain pose
- Warrior I
- Tree pose
- Child's pose
- Downward-facing dog
- Corpse pose
Aerobic dances are a fun way to get your heart pumping and burn calories. They offer a great way to reduce stress, which can help improve blood sugar control. You can find aerobic classes at most gyms or fitness centers. If you're new to aerobic dancing, start with a beginner class and take it slow at first. Joining classes or clubs is a great way to socialize and meet new friends with similar interests.
As you become more comfortable, you can increase the intensity of your aerobic exercises. And like with any other exercise, listen to your body and take a break if you need it. If you feel dizzy or experience shortness of breath, stop exercising, take a rest, and monitor your blood sugar levels.
Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have diabetes. They can help set you up with a safe and effective routine that meets your individual needs. Always remember to monitor your blood sugar levels before and after exercise to avoid complications.
With the right precautions in place, exercising can be a great way to improve your overall health and quality of life. It can also help control blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Go ahead and get started on your fitness journey today.