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Can a Diabetic Exercise?



Reader Don Walker asks:
“Hi, I am a diabetic and I was wondering what type of exercise program I can do?

Kris Etheridge –  Sports Movement, Strength Conditioning and, Balance and Agility Trainer

It’s common for people with diabetes to be a little unsure about whether or not they should be exercising. But the truth is it’s one of the best things you can do to control your blood sugar levels and to improve your health.

Those with diabetes can suffer from or be at risk of numerous health issues. These include the following:

Heart disease, stroke, blindness or vision problems, nerve damage, kidney damage, gum disease, depression, sleep apnea, erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue.

So learning to control diabetes is extremely important. As it allows you to take control of your health and possible reduce your risk of contracting other illnesses.

One of the most critical indicators of how well someone is controlling their diabetes is their A1C reading. The A1C reading is a measurement of how well a person body is regulating their blood sugar levels and a healthy individual should have an A1C reading of less than 7.

A new study published in the Sept. 18 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that a combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training was the most effective at lowering A1C levels in patients. However, before starting an exercise program you should have a stress test performed by a medical specialist and a full check up. If given the okay, then the American Diabetes Association recommended doing the following exercise program:

  • Five times per week perform 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming or any activity that raises the heart rate for the entire duration.
  • Perform moderate intensity resistance training 2-3 times per week.

Something to keep in mind is that high blood pressure and high cholesterol are very common in people with type 2 diabetes, so if you do have high blood pressure or high cholesterol opt to work out later in the day when the veins and arteries are less stiff.  This is based on the fact that in the morning your arteries don’t expand as easily as they do later in the day, which is why more heart attacks happen in the morning.

It is also important for you, as a diabetic, to avoid any overhead exercises or exercises that place a great deal of pressure on the body such as weightlifting with very heavy weights. But, you can and definitely should start working out. Just remember to take it slow and give your body time to adapt to this new way of life before you move onto more advanced forms of training.

Kris EtheridgeKris Etheridge is a Melbourne based health and fitness expert that has delivered over 20,000 personal training sessions in the last 10 years. Kris has worked with world champion athletes and numerous well known celebrities. He is currently working on his first female weight loss book, which is due out later in 2012.

As a fitness expert, Kris is always looking for ways to help more people live a healthier life. He is a certified personal trainer,  sports movement, strength conditioning and, balance and agility trainer,  a  level one and two boxing and Thump boxing trainer, level one and two kettle-bell instructor, a Rip 60 certified instructor and a certified Cirq instructor.

Sigrid de Castella – ‘Half the Woman I Was’ Author

Eight years ago I weighed more than 143kg (315lb) and was on the verge of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes – if only I’d had the courage to go to the doctor. But then I had a light bulb moment.

It came to me in a blinding flash – that I could take control and change my life. I soon learned I was eating all the wrong foods, doing virtually no exercise and had completely the wrong mindset. And whilst all this may sound ‘familiar’ it was in my 20-month journey to ‘slimville’ that I learned which exercises were safe to do for my undiagnosed condition.

Whilst most will tell you that ‘any exercise is better than nothing’ a study by the combined Universities of Calgary and Ottawa published in 18 September 2007 journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that not all exercise is created equal. It turns out that a combination of cardiovascular or aerobic exercise and resistance or weight training controls blood sugar much better than either exercise alone.

At the time that I started developing my own program I was unaware of this study. But, as it turned out, this is exactly what I ended up doing and it helped me shed more than 70kg and completely reversed my medical conditions including hypertension, high cholesterol and that undiagnosed diabetes.

But, before you can exercise you need to how much, how often and what kind of exercise is enough?

Cardiovascular Exercise

  • For best results aim to do at least 30-minutes each day at whatever level is safe for your personal circumstances.
  • If you’re overweight or have joint problems, then look for low-impact activities like walking, swimming, using an orbital trainer or water aerobics. If your joints are fine, then take your pick. Just remember to stretch and warm up beforehand.
  • In either case, work only as hard as you can without overdoing it. You need to get the blood and oxygen pumping through your body. Remember it will take some time to increase your fitness level, so be patient.

Resistance Training

  • Again 30 minute sessions are great, but make sure your only doing 3 sessions a week. Alternate upper and lower body workouts and allow time in-between for your body’s muscles to recover.
  • If you’ve never weight trained before it can be difficult to understand what exercises to do or how to perform them with the correct posture. If unsure then Google and YouTube are your on-line friends, although attending a few sessions at a professional gym and accessing their trainers can well be worth the investment.

Sigrid de Castella is an internationally published author, speaker, and coach in the fields of health and business. Her book “Half The Woman I Was – How I lost 70kg naturally, reclaimed my life … and how you can too!” has received international acclaim and has been hailed as the most comprehensive weight loss book on the market. Sigrid has also studied Personal Training with the Fitness Institute Australia and has a keen interest in whole food nutrition, natural therapies and all aspects of physical and mental health. Sigrid and holds a BBA from RMIT University and is a member of both the Australian Institute of Managers and the Australian Society of Authors.

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Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinon is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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