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Doctor-Recommended Workouts for Diabetes

By Nicole Dorsey, Special to Lifescript


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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, American Indian and Alaska Native adults are 2.3 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes. The disease is the fourth leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives, affecting about 16% of the population. Information about diabetes from Tanka friend Lifescript runs occasionally in our blog, Walking the Way of Wellness.

Getting older isn't easy, especially for us gals. First, your metabolism sputters, then knees and other joints start to ache. And as you get older, blood pressure spikes while your libido plummets.

And don't forget those new jiggly parts - where did they come from anyway?

That's why it's important to start training your body now. In addition to burning calories and building strength, exercise boosts overall health and prevents age-related conditions, such as osteoporosis, while helping to manage others, like diabetes.

Not to mention fringe benefits like a slimmer body, keener mental focus and sky-high energy!

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that every adult exercise at least 20-60 minutes, 5 days a week. If a chronic condition makes that seem impossible, remember: Every little movement counts.

Learn more about the best workouts doctors recommend for 8 health conditions women face.

Note: Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Why You Hurt


More than 23.6 million people - 7.8% of the U.S. population - have this chronic metabolic disease, and nearly 18 million are pre-diabetic or undiagnosed, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, a department of the National Institute of Health that specializes in digestive and kidney disorders.

"A diabetes diagnosis can motivate people to make positive lifestyle changes, such as daily exercise and eating healthier," says registered nurse Claire M. Blum, a certified diabetes educator and long-term diabetic.

And that's a good thing: Maintaining a healthy body weight helps manage the high blood pressure or cholesterol that often accompanies diabetes.

Exercise Rx


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Dietetic Association recommend moderate aerobic exercise, such as stair-climbing, hiking, swimming and group fitness classes.

Lifting weights is also key, since muscle cells burn more energy than fat cells, according to ACSM.

Daily Dose


Do aerobic activities for 30-60 minutes at least 5 days a week.

And lift weights twice a week for 20-30 minutes. A gradual 10-minute warm-up and 10-minute cool-down are important because exercising muscles metabolizes insulin faster and may disrupt or underestimate insulin response.

Watch Out


There are many exercise no-no's for diabetics.

Physical activity can cause low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, in people who take insulin or certain medications. It can happen while you exercise, immediately afterward or even up to a day later, says Blum. You'll feel shaky, weak, confused, grumpy, hungry or tired.

If your blood sugar drops too low, you could pass out or have a seizure, says Blum. So if you take diabetes medications, you may have to change the dosage before you exercise or have a snack.

To avoid making diabetic eye problems worse, skip activities that add pressure to the blood vessels of your eyes, such as lifting heavy weights.

To read more suggested workouts for other common heath conditions, read Doctor-Recommended Workouts for Diabetes... and More.

For more about diabetes: LifeScript
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