World Diabetes Day 2023: Easy and fun exercises to keep blood sugar levels in check
Here's how to fight diabetes with a series of easy and fun workouts that will keep your blood sugar levels balanced and energy levels high.
Diabetes diagnosis can be life-changing as well as overwhelming considering the metabolic disorder is linked with many health condition that can affect quality of life. However, keeping blood sugar levels in check with the help of lifestyle interventions can be gamechanger and can keep diabetes' dangerous manifestations at bay. Instead of feeling burdened about going for a workout every day or eating a certain kind of food, one should try to make this journey fun by adding activities that fill your heart with joy. For instance, dancing and swimming can be opted for those who find daily walks monotonous. If age is on your side, running can be a great mood booster and can keep you in perfect shape too. (Also read | Is pollution raising your blood sugar levels? Know how toxic air can lead to type 2 diabetes)
"Exercise is essential for individuals with diabetes because it helps improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and maintain a healthy weight. The types of exercises patients with diabetes should learn and include in their routine include brisk walking or running, strength training and balance training. Keeping oneself active through the day also helps. Physical activity after meals particularly in those who don’t have cardiac problems can help lower post meal spikes in glucose.
These activities not only assist in managing blood glucose but also enhance overall health and well-being, reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications," says Dr. Subramanian Kannan, HOD – Endocrinology and Diabetology, Narayana Health City Bangalore.
"Fitness is paramount in diabetes care as it aids in regulating blood sugar levels, managing weight, and promoting overall health. Regular exercise enhances insulin sensitivity, reduces stress, and lowers the risk of heart disease. It also fosters better sleep, increased energy levels, and improved mental well-being. For those at risk of diabetes, exercise can help prevent its onset, and for those with diabetes, it's a fundamental component of effective management and potential reversal. Adults with diabetes should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, spread over at least 3 days per week. They should also include 2-3 sessions of resistance exercise and 2-3 sessions of flexibility and balance training in their weekly routine. Supervised training programs are recommended over non-supervised programs to gain more health benefits from physical activity," says Annie Mattilda R, Sr Nutritionist and Head of R&D at Sugarfit.
EXERCISES FOR DIABETES
Mattilda also shares 7 easy exercises for people with diabetes:
1. Aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, is highly beneficial for individuals with diabetes. It helps improve insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar levels, and reduces the risk of diabetes-related complications.
2. Resistance training
Resistance (strength) training for at least 15 minutes is another important component of managing diabetes. It helps increase muscle mass, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance glucose control. Examples of strength training exercises include weightlifting, resistance band workouts, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats.
3. Balance and flexibility exercises
Balance exercises for at least 15 minutes a day, such as single-leg stands, heel-to-toe walks, and mind-body practices like yoga, are essential for diabetics to enhance gait and prevent falls. Incorporating flexibility exercises, like stretching routines, alongside these balance exercises, is equally important.
4. Nitric oxide dump
Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps relax blood vessels, improving blood flow and potentially aiding blood sugar control. Four simple exercises are enough (squats, standing calf raises, hip hinges, high knee marching) to boost nitric oxide production, improve blood flow, and potentially aid blood sugar control.
5. Anti-gravity exercises
Anti-gravity exercises, such as swimming and climbing stairs, are highly beneficial for individuals with diabetes. These low-impact activities reduce stress on joints while providing a full-body workout. Regular anti-gravity exercises help control blood sugar levels, enhance cardiovascular health, and improve muscle strength, all while minimizing the risk of injury.
6. Soleus push-ups
Soleus push-ups are a variation of the traditional push-up that focuses on activating the soleus muscle, a deep calf muscle. Strengthening the soleus can aid in better circulation, which is crucial for individuals with diabetes.
7. Post meal walks
Compared to the traditional morning walk, taking a short post-meal walk can be a powerful tool in diabetes management. After a meal, blood sugar levels tend to rise, and a brief walk can help the body utilize the excess glucose more effectively. This simple practice can contribute to better blood sugar control, reduce post-meal spikes, and improve insulin sensitivity over time.
Dr. Abhishek Kulkarni, Consultant - Pediatric Endocrinology, NHSRCC Hospital, Mumbai says that exercise can be beneficial for children with diabetes for controlling blood sugar as it improves insulin sensitivity. Dr Kulkarni says exercise can assist energy expenditure, maintenance of energy balance and musculoskeletal well-being in children.
"Children can do brisk walking, running, field sports, dancing, swimming and such similar exercises. Children on insulin therapy must take requisite precautions and make modifications for the nature and duration of exercise. An hour of moderate intensity physical activity per day prevents development of adiposity and helps maintain metabolic homeostasis in the body," says the expert.