What are the exercises which are recommended for Diabetes?
One of the primary causes postulated for increasing incidence of Diabetes is lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle.As near as 50 yrs ago , there was scarcity of food and great efforts had to be made to procure food. Physical work related to day to day existence itself meant burning of large amount of calories and consequently helping in utilisation of glucose in the body and decreasing excess fat reserves.
Changes in lifestyle and material prosperity even in rural areas have meant that the daily walking and other physical efforts have greatly reduced. This has lead to increasing weight , increasing abdominal obesity even in children and decreasing muscle mass.This imbalance is present to a greater or lesser extent in every Diabetic.
The three most important aspects of Diabetes control are Diet , Exercise and Medications. We shall discuss Exercise for a Diabetic here.
The most important exercise that is recommended is Walking.walking is most natural , most physiological, low investment, effective and with no side effects.our natural posture is made for walking.walking does not put undue strain in any part of the body
.Chances of getting knee osteoarthritis or low back problems are minimal in walking. It helps in slow calorie burning and glucose utilisation. It improves the blood circulation to various parts of the body including the arms and legs and heart and brain.It gradually helps in improving microcirculation to various parts of the body. This will lower incidence of coronary artery blocks which can lead to heart attacks. It decreases chances of Peripheral Vascular Diasease.it also decreases chances of Strokes and Dementia in elderly.it helps in reducing cholesterol as well as total body fat.
Of all age 80 plus patients that I have seen, three aspects are common.first if they are all lean or low weight.second is they eat less and generally have fewer cravings for food .and third is they all walk. Diabetics who walk have better outcomes than those that do not.
Walking is a type of isotonic exercise . Other forms of isotonic exercise are jogging, running, swimming , cycling and games like football, badminton exercise.Before starting the other forms seek advice from your doctor.
The other type of exercise is call Isometric Exercise. Or Resistance exercise or weight training exercises. These include lifting weights in a gym set up. These exercises help in building the muscle strength and muscle bulk . any exercise which help in building muscle bulk and decrease fat mass will be helpful in lowering sugars. Good muscle bulk means lower insulin resistance and burning of more glucose in the body. This helps in decreasing sudden surges in blood glucose and a more rapid return of blood sugars to baseline
More important if someone has a good muscle mass then even if he/she is resting the body burns proportionately more amount of blood sugars.
Hence both types of exercise is helpful in Diabetes.
Yoga helps in some ways but there is little calorie burning in Yoga . Hence you may do yoga but don’t over rely on yoga alone to get sugars down. Combine yoga with walking and other forms of calorie burning exercises.
So in general walk daily preferably 45 minutes to 1 hour …normal to brisk pace.level ground walking. If physical fitness permits and after consulting with your doctor walk uphill or jog , do cycling etc
Alternate day do some weight training exercises . concentrate on improving muscle mass over upper segment it is chest and arms but more importantly back and lower limb muscles also.
Additional stretching exercises or yoga can be done.
If there is no co-morbidity and if your doctor permits you may do other forms like dancing, zumba and other sports.
Try to walk as much as possible through the day. Especially during work hours also.
Plan weekend outings to be more exercise oriented such as going to parks and beaches and indulging in walk or sport rather than going to malls.
Good exercise schedule helps in short term and long term control of sugars. And more importantly very effectively prevents complications of diabetes like heart attacks and strokes and peripheral artery disease.
DR JACOB THOMAS