Fitness Tips For Diabetics – Part 1

Welcome to America where obesity and type II diabetes are on the rise to epidemic proportions. What the real problem is that these 2 “diseases” are very much curable and without the use of anything unnatural or with dangerous side-effects. Unfortunately, many Americans would rather perpetuate the myth that the only way to reign in these problems are with “magic potions” in the form of pills or special surgeries.

Ironically, it is this same quick, lazy approach that is the main cause of these problems to begin with! It has always been an American tradition that hard work pays off but as we get more and more efficient we, as a nation, are doing less and less hard work allowing these conditions the perfect opportunity to take over. Now, there are always exceptions- to everything I’ve mentioned so far- but they are rare. For the purpose of this article, let us just focus on one of these problems (although they do almost always go together).

Type II diabetes, very briefly, is elevated glucose, or sugar, in the blood due to the body’s resistance to correctly use the hormone insulin. Insulin plays a few roles in the body. One is that it regulates blood sugar levels by getting sugar out of the blood and into cells to be used for energy. When your body develops a resistance to insulin then blood sugar levels rise because insulin becomes less effective. When insulin levels rise, another role it plays is to “turn off” the cells ability to use fat as energy until blood sugar levels return to normal. This can lead to a plethora of other health problems if left untreated, the same as type I diabetes. In other parts of the world, like Europe, type II diabetes can be remedied through proper nutrition and regular activity (like a good exercise routine). The nutrition part of it I will discuss in another article so let us stay with the fitness or exercise side here.

One benefit of insulin is that it has anabolic or muscle building properties, as well. This means that it can be used to your advantage while you exercise and help your overall health. In other words, by doing a resistance workout regularly you can build muscle a little more quickly. Building more muscle means you will raise your metabolism, burning more calories, even at rest, and losing fat a little faster and easier. Also, regular exercise will lower blood sugar levels and help to stabilize it. That is even more reason type 2 diabetics should exercise. There is, also, some research that suggests that high body fat concentrated in one area (like the waist for males and hips/thighs for females) can increase insulin resistance. Then by reducing body fat, essentially, you will reduce that resistance or increase insulin sensitivity (here’s 1 part of that remedy for type 2).

Ok, so now I think it is just a question of what one should do in terms of exercise for diabetes. Well, I would definitely recommend resistance training. It will help to lower or control elevated insulin levels and glucose in the blood, tone and build muscle increasing your metabolism and burning more calories, and, basically, get you more active and in shape.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend a cardiovascular routine, though. That’s just as important because it will help to improve your body from the inside-out working on your heart, lungs, and circulatory system making them stronger and more efficient as well as lowering blood sugar and preventing or improving heart disease. Usually for my clients I suggest to start with a good circuit training routine for the resistance part to help tone muscle while getting a little aerobic (cardio) exercise keeping the rest periods low, and starting, gradually, to build a good foundation for more advanced routines.

Circuit training consists of 1-2 exercises per body part (working your whole body) for 10-15 repetitions and around 3 sets with rest periods in-between of about 20-40 seconds. Once this routine is learned, a client can move on to more advanced routines, like a split routine, but can always come back to this as a break in between programs or for simple maintenance while on vacation. A basic total body circuit program can look like the following- although you can substitute in your favorite exercises for the different body parts or rotate in other exercises each day you perform this to keep your program from getting “stale”.

15x, 15x, 12x of the following:
Chest press
Chest fly
Back row
Back latissimus pulldown
Shoulder lateral raise
Shoulder shrug
Leg press
Quadriceps extension
Hamstring curl

15x, 15x, 15x of the following:
Low back hyperextension
Biceps curl
Triceps extension
Calf raise

The above is just a basic circuit training routine. You can follow this, at first, if you’ve never worked out before or if it’s been a long time since you last did. It’s good to build a strong foundation to progress from. Choose a weight that will allow you to do the specific repetitions for that set and almost no more. In the next part, we will go over a good cardiovascular, or aerobic routine. Stay tuned…

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