How incidental exercise and strength training can help you manage diabetes

Experts say that exercise helps in regulating insulin response and sugar levels in blood. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, then treat it as a wake-up call to start taking better care of yourself. One beneficial habit to cultivate is regular physical exercise. Exercising makes you feel better overall and cuts down on the risk of certain complications which are associated with diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is metabolic disorder with high glucose levels in blood. It has become the leading cause of serious health problems like kidney failure, blindness due to diabetic retinopathy, foot amputation, heart disease, stroke etc. The disease develops due to a combination of defects in physiology i.e. insulin resistance and insulin deficiency. One of the effective ways of preventing diabetes is exercise. Exercise helps in diabetes control by many ways, like increasing glucose utilisation by cells, making insulin more efficient and thus helping to lose weight. “Aerobic exercises should be done for 30 to 60 minutes in moderate intensity. These are brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing and casual sports – basketball, football, table tennis and badminton etc., at least 5 times a week,” says Dr. Arun Kumar Singh, Endocrinologist and Diabetologist on Lybrate, Delhi. “Incidental exercises are important too. There are everyday activities that involve movement but are not very intensive. Performing routine tasks such as climbing up and down the stairs, vacuuming, walking short distances, washing the car, playing with pets and children, and gardening can also contribute positively to improved fitness,” explains Dr. Singh. However, people with medical conditions such as heart disease, poor vision and limited mobility should discuss about the safety of these activities with their doctor. Strength training is another method which is helpful in controlling diabetes. “A gym environment may not be for everyone. Resistance exercises can be done two-three times a week even at home with the help of stretch bands, hand-held weights or just your own body weight. Some simple strength training techniques include lifting free weights, sit-ups, planks, squats and pushups,” says Dr. Minal Vohra, Medical Advisor, BeatO, Jaipur. She says that these exercises help in regulating insulin response and sugar levels in blood. Besides this, strength training is also a great way to lose weight and manage blood cholesterol.