Low-Impact Exercise Options

Lesson 4

Some low-impact exercise options

 Exercise is very good for your cardiovascular health, but as someone living with Type 2 diabetes, exercise offers other important benefits. In fact, it is a key element of your management plan, and here are why:

  • Exercise makes your cells to be more sensitive to insulin
  • When you are exercising, your muscles can directly take up and metabolize glucose without the help of insulin
  • Exercise helps you to lose weight, which enhances your overall fitness and reduces insulin resistance

While there are different forms of exercise, low-impact exercises are good for you because they are less stressful on your body and can still get your muscles and heart fully worked out. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, which implies 30 minutes of exercise per day and five days per week, with no more than two days between exercise sessions.

Now, here are some low-impact exercise options you can do at home:

1. Brisk Walking

Walking is about the easiest low-impact exercise you can do. It doesn’t require any special equipment or going to the gym house. You only need a comfortable pair of shoes and somewhere to go, such as the supermarket or a friend’s house. Even if you don’t have anywhere in mind, you can walk around the streets or even your home — if possible, get a treadmill.

With 30 minutes of brisk walking per day and five days a week, you can achieve the ADA’s recommended target since brisk walking is considered a moderate-intensity exercise. You may not even do the 30 minutes at once. Research has shown that walking for about 10 minutes after eating helps to regulate blood sugar levels. So, a 10-minute walk three times a day, after each meal, gives the 30 minutes for the day.

2. Stationary Cycling

Just like brisk walking, stationary cycling is a low-impact aerobic exercise you can do at home, and it doesn’t require much — just a stationary bicycle. Cycling is can be very helpful if you have unstable feet, as the bulk of your weight rests on the bicycle seat. It is a moderately vigorous exercise that can help you build strength and increase muscle mass in your lower limbs.

Pedaling on a stationary bicycle at a moderate speed for about 30 minutes can raise your heartbeat and get you to sweat. If you do that each day, five times each week, you would have met the recommended exercise target. An interesting thing about indoor cycling is that you can do it at any time.

3. Swimming

If you have a swimming pool at home, then, swimming can be an enjoyable way to get your exercise goal. One of its greatest benefits is that it doesn’t stress your joints like walking or cycling does since the water supports your weight, making it easy for your joints. Although it’s gentle and easy, water aerobics offers a great workout for the heart and muscles.

However, you should know that Type 2 diabetes can cause foot problems, such as numbness, and it can come unannounced. So, it is necessary you get water shoes to protect your feet while swimming.

4. Dancing

Sure, you can get your 30 minutes workout target for the day by dancing to your favorite music. While you are enjoying your music, you are also putting your muscles to work, and your heart also follows along to meet with the demand — more like using one stone to kill two beds.

Be conscious of your feet though; don’t be carried away by the intensity of the music. Before you dance, make sure that you’re putting on comfy shoes to avoid foot injuries.

5. Weight Lifting

Weight lifting or weight training is very good for you because it helps to build your muscle mass. As someone living with diabetes, having a great muscle mass offers a great advantage in maintaining your blood glucose levels. Here is why: your muscles are one of the major consumers of glucose, especially during exercise, and they can use glucose in the absence of insulin.

So, if you have adequate muscle bulk, your body will be able to burn more glucose, according to the ADA. Start with small weights and gradually increase the weight with time. Interestingly, you can start with the objects you have at home.

6. Yoga and Tai Chi

These exercises combine mild physical movements with meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation. Although Yoga and Tai Chi may not be physical enough to put your heart to any serious work, it helps you reduce stress, improve balance, and enhance flexibility.

By improving your balance, you reduce the risk of falling and injuring yourself, and wound healing, as you know, is a serious issue with Type 2 diabetes. In reducing stress, these exercises also help to control your blood sugar levels.

7. Bodyweight Exercises

Also known as calisthenics, bodyweight exercises imply using your own weight to train your muscles. There are many bodyweight exercises you can do at home, such as squats, pushups, lunges, pullups, knee smashes, bear crawls, plank jacks, and others.

The ADA suggests that you add muscle training exercises to your exercise routine but recommends you do that every alternate day to give your body time to recover after each session.