Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder which results in someone’s blood sugar being high. Exercise is recommended for diabetics in order to help the body to regulate blood sugar levels efficiently.

In my experience, exercise is of paramount importance, whether you have a disease or not, the human body needs exertion. Physical activity should be at the right intensity, so that it is hard but enjoyable. Exercisers come in different shapes and forms and range from bodybuilders to marathon runners, however, those who achieve long term success consistently prioritise exercise and find pleasure in understanding how to stimulate their muscles whilst simultaneously having a lot of fun.

I recommend diabetics to have a mixed approach to exercise

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Workouts should consist of resistance training, cardiovascular exercise, pilates, yoga and additional sport related activity. These methods of training are all fundamentals of success but some carry more benefits for diabetics, so I order them as follows:

Resistance based exercise (weight training)

Puts necessary stress on the muscles increasing metabolism and forcing your muscles to use more sugar for growth and repair before, during and after training. Focus on full body movements and short rest periods so a greater volume of repetitions are completed in a short space of time. Squats, pull ups and press ups are the fundamentals.

Cardio (aerobic exercise) prepares the body for resistance training by heating up the body for a minimum of 5-10 minutes. It also effectively cools the body down, which reduces muscle soreness, stiffness and general fatigue. It is also a great calorie burner where you release more endorphins than in any other form of exercise to leave you feeling positive. High intensity interval training (choose any exercise and change tempo through out so that you work at your maximum capacity for as long as possible and plan lower intensity rest periods for you to recover in between attempts) should be incorporated into your aerobic training. I recommend burpees and rowing as they are full body movements, but ensure you have enough energy in the tank beforehand!

Sport specific activity

Trains the body with the benefit of a lower perceived level of exertion. Training with music has a similar effect. You will experience improved balance, co-ordination, agility, power, spacial awareness and speed, this will lower body fat significantly and aid the regulation of blood sugar levels as these skills accentuate the results from the other four methods of training. Skipping, martial arts, squash and swimming are great for calorie burning; swimming, cycling, and some martial arts are fantastic because they are often low or non impact activities.

Pilates

Develops muscle groups surrounding the spine and teaches you how to breath correctly. Pilates at least once a week for maximised muscle contraction, enhanced posture, stress relief, mental clarity. A high level of core stability brings out your true exercise potential as you progress rapidly and feel confident about your waistline.

Top 5 recommended exercise for diabetics

Yoga

Is what I consider to be the secret ingredient for health and wellness. It takes many forms, some with an emphasis on flexibility, others focus more on relaxation. Consequently, at least one type of yoga will appeal to you. It is imperative that you perform yoga moves at least once a week to lengthen your muscles, create physical, emotional and mental calmness, and to counter the stress placed on the body during your other workouts. I love Iyengar, Bikram & Hatha yoga but each to their own!

All three types of diabetes will improve when beneficial exercise is combined with healthy nutrition. Type 1 diabetes arises when the body fails to produce insulin (the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar). When type 1 diabetics are exercising, they must listen to their bodies by increasing the workout intensity when energy levels are higher and taking the appropriate action when energy levels dip. Type 2 diabetes occurs when insulin becomes resistant and doesn’t clear sugar from the blood efficiently if at all, these populations will achieve greatness by simply losing body fat. Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women when their blood glucose level increases.

Are you struggling with your condition or finding it nearly impossible to alter your lifestyle? I advise you do the following:

–  experiment with different exercise classes and groups

–  see a nutritionist

–  discover yoga fully

–  watch youtube videos for inspiration from others in a similar position to you

–  hire an experienced and motivational personal trainer

–  find a training partner or several who are interested in joining you for alternative sporting activities

–  be patient and have confidence in who you are and what you are doing

Lastly, it is very common for disheartened diabetics or gym goers to overdo the exercise and neglect nutrition. YOU MUST EAT FOODS CONTAINING LOTS OF NUTRIENTS and avoid overconsumption of fats and carbohydrate even if they are healthier varieties. Water is also an extremely useful tool in maintaining a healthy stable weight and assisting your body to burn fat. I shouldn’t have to remind you that alcohol, processed foods and drinks, smoking and lack of sleep are hugely detrimental to your progress.

The power is in your hands.

Yours in fitness.

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