30 Days to a Diabetes-Free Life

Despite what You’ve been Told – You CAN Reverse Diabetes Permanently – and You Don’t Need Insulin Shots

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Diabetic Strength Training, Why You Need It and Why You Need to Be Careful

By Lynda-Ross Vega

Diabetic strength training is not talked about as much as walking, biking and running, but for a type 2 diabetic the benefits of this kind of workout are tremendous. Whether your goal is to lose weight or to get back on your feet, diabetic strength training will help you get there.

But because we older diabetics have problems like peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, we need to be careful with any new kind of exercise, and that goes double for strength training. Do it wrong and you'll injure yourself.

What Diabetic Strength Training Is, and What It Is Not

Walking, biking, swimming, elliptical training and jogging are called aerobic exercise. You need to do them for long periods of time, but not to the point that you feel sore afterward. Anything from 30 minutes to an hour or more is possible. But you should be able to talk while doing this kind of exercise.

It's easy to measure how many calories you use for aerobic exercise because of the steady pace and length of time. Free apps (applications for phones and computers) and websites like Fitness Pal and the American Diabetes Association can tell you approximately how many calories you burn during exercise if you have a weight loss goal.

Diabetic strength training, on the other hand, uses a different kind of energy called the glycolytic system. It does not use oxygen, so it's called anaerobic. The system uses the breakdown of glucose for energy, and that can only be done in short bursts.

Weight lifters, baseball players, gymnasts and sprinters use this kind of energy. They have to rest between the bursts of speed or effort because glucose breakdown lasts for seconds up to a couple of minutes. That is why strength trainers talk about repetitions and sets with periods of rest in between.

Comparing the Benefits of Aerobic Exercise and Diabetic Strength Training

Walking and other aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, raises your good cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and burns calories. It has also been proven to lift you out of depression. I know for a fact that it does all of those.

So why do you need diabetic strength training? Because it will build your bone and skeletal muscle strength. That means fewer falls and injuries because you have better balance. Your coordination improves and you can move around more easily.

And there's more. Strength training increases your metabolic rate, the speed at which your body burns calories. You are replacing fat with muscle, and muscles burn more calories. This is true even if your actual weight on the scales does not change.

More muscle mass will have a great impact on insulin resistance, which research has proved is worsened by excess body fat around your organs. You will find it easier to lose weight and keep it off.

On The Biggest Loser television show, trainers use a combination of aerobic and strength training along with diet. And every diabetic contestant ends the competition off of diabetic medications. It works.

Some Don'ts for Starting Diabetic Strength Training

Don't ever start a new exercise program without talking to your doctor. The longer you've had diabetes the more likely the complications of peripheral neuropathy have made your feet and legs less sensitive to injury.

And autonomic neuropathy means you can't depend on your pulse to tell you how much stress you are putting on your heart. You'll have to use how you feel, whether you are able to breathe through each exercise.

If you have neuropathies your doctor might suggest exercise that does not depend on good balance to protect you from falling injuries. Things like biking with resistance (you could try a spin class), swimming, rowing and arm exercises are the kinds of things you can do safely.

Cooling down after exercise is more important with autonomic neuropathy too. Your blood pressure might drop fast when you finish your workout, and the cool down period gives it time to adjust. If you feel dizzy at any time you need to talk to your doctor about it.

Don't exercise without your diabetic shoes and socks. Don't forget to check your feet before and after exercise for trouble spots, because your feet won't tell you where blisters are forming.

If you exercise outside, autonomic neuropathy won't allow you to do it in high heat or if it's really cold. And the importance of drinking water before exercise can't be overstated. Don't skip that step. Make sure you are wearing your diabetic identification jewelry and that you have water at your side if you are planning to work out more than an hour or so.

Strength training starts slow, so don't overdo it and hurt your muscles. Don't skip the warm-up and don't do one exercise over and over. Vary the muscles you use. Don't hold your breath. Trainers teach you to breathe through every exercise.

Don't do diabetic strength training every day. A day or two of rest between sessions gives muscles a chance to build up. Rest days are an important part of the whole process of raising skeletal muscle strength.

There are many websites with videos that will help you learn sets of exercises. Some use weights that you hold and others use elastic bands or wrist and ankle weights you strap on. With diabetic strength training, technique is everything.

A trainer will explain how many repetitions of each exercise you should do and when to stop. And he or she will teach you how to alternate the muscles you work on so you won't leave any out.

That's why it's best to start with a trainer either through a video or, better yet, at an exercise class at the Y or a fitness gym, at least until you have learned a good routine.

You might find that you enjoy yoga or Pilates, both of which build what they call core strength, the skeletal muscles you depend on every day to go through daily activities with ease.

A few minutes every other day for diabetic strength training is going to pay you back in huge benefits. I think it's worth a try. By the way, if you have found a good exercise program I'd love to hear about it.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Einstein

Martha Zimmer invites you to visit her website and learn more about type 2 diabetes, its complications and how you can deal with them, as well as great tips for eating healthy that will make living with diabetes less painful.

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1 comment:

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