People with diabetes can greatly benefit from developing a physical exercise routine that can help control their blood sugar levels and improve body’s sensitivity to insulin. All types of exercise, whether aerobic, resistance or both, are equally good at lowering HbA1c values in people with diabetes.
“Walking for just a minimum of two hours a week helps people with diabetes reduce their risk of dying from heart disease than their sedentary counter- parts. Furthermore, those who exercised three to four hours a week cut their risk even more,” says Dr. Abhijeet Mugalikar, M.B.B.S, M.D., F.Diab., Diabetes Specialist, Shri Samarth Diabetes and Dental Care Center, Latur.
Older people with sedentary lifestyle could try combining resistance training and aerobic exercise for lowering insulin resistance.
“In previously sedentary older people with abdominal obesity at risk for diabetes, resistance training and aerobic exercise both were found to help lower insulin resistance. In fact, combining the two types of exercise proved more beneficial,” says Dr Mugalikar.
The expert also elaborates on the benefits of stretching and balance training for older people with diabetes. “Stretching increases range of motion around joints thus improving flexibility, while balance training can help to reduce the risk of falls by improving the balance and gait, even if there is presence of peripheral neuropathy in people with diabetes.
Dr Mugalikar says women who have diabetes should spend at least four hours a week doing moderate exercise including walking or rigorous exercise so as to lower the risk of developing heart disease by 40% compared to those who didn’t exercise.
Here are the guidelines of The American Diabetes Association for people with diabetes:
Most adults with diabetes should engage in 150 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity weekly, spread over at least 3 days/week, with no more than 2 consecutive days without activity. Shorter durations (minimum 75 min/week) of vigorous-intensity or interval training may be sufficient for younger and more physically fit individuals.
Children and adolescents with type 1 or type 2 diabetes should engage in 60 minutes/day or more of moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic activity, with vigorous, muscle-strengthening, and bone- strengthening activities included at least 3 days/week.
Adults with diabetes should engage in 2–3 sessions/week of resistance exercise on non-consecutive days.
Flexibility training and balance training are recommended 2–3 times/week for older adults with diabetes. Yoga and tai chi may be included based on individual preferences to increase flexibility, muscular strength, and balance.