You’ve learned that in order to control diabetes, exercise must become a regular part of your life. But you’re probably wondering what form of exercise will give you the best results. Honestly, if you’ve been doing very little in the way of exercise, simply walking often will prove beneficial. However, if you want the BEST results, you’ll want to do more than just walk, also known as aerobic exercise. Resistance training and diabetes is a neglected topic and just as important to your health.
What is Resistance Training?
The mention of resistance training may elicit a mental image of buff men and women in the gym, lifting ridiculously heavy weights and grunting. While some choose to go that route, you’ll still gain significant benefits by doing something milder.
Resistance training is basically exercise movements that use resistance in order to build muscle and increase strength. It can include lifting free weights, but that’s not the only modality. The use of machines, body weight and resistance bands also qualify as resistance training.
Why is Resistance Training and Diabetes a Thing?
Resistance training provides numerous benefits for individuals who are living with diabetes. The benefits exceed the pleasing aesthetics that accompany building a toned body. Studies show that resistance training is so effective in the prevention and management of diabetes that it could be used as the primary method of exercise for those who have difficulty engaging in aerobic exercise.
Benefits of Resistance Training and Diabetes
- Your body remains sensitive to insulin 24 hours after you’ve exercised
- Better blood glucose control
- Improves muscular strength
- Improves bone strength
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves body composition
- Fat loss
The 24 Hour Stretch
If you have diabetes, your insulin sensitivity is impaired. In someone without diabetes, the pancreas releases insulin at the sign of sugar in the blood. The body’s cells recognize the presence of insulin and know how to absorb sugar from the blood.
In those with diabetes, the body’s cells have become resistant to insulin. This means that the pancreas begins to release a surplus of insulin, eventually wearing on the cells. Once this occurs, excess sugar remains in the blood, causing several issues.
Studies have found that resistance training makes your body sensitive to insulin for 24 hours. This allows people to adequately manage Type 2 diabetes as long as regular exercise is performed.
Control Your Blood Sugar
Building muscle makes muscles cells more receptive to absorbing sugar in the blood. This results in less sugar circulating in the blood.
Strength to Do More
People tend to become more sedentary as they age. Doing less physical work results in bone loss and decreased strength. Resistance training can remedy this common occurrence by improving bone density and building stronger muscles. There’s also a correlation between physical strength and an improved sense of self.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Although many have previously believed that resistance training will negatively impact blood pressure, it’s been found that performing resistance training can help reduce blood pressure. Your doctor or healthcare professional will need to consider your medical condition when deciding on the level of resistance (low, moderate, or high), the number of reps, and the number of sets. This is especially important if you’ve experienced heart conditions.
Look and Feel Better
Aerobic exercise packs a powerful punch. But it falls short in one area: toning the body. Muscles are responsible for creating the curves in “toned” individuals. Those muscles are built by regular resistance training. If you’re someone who would like your body to become more sculpted and shapely, here’s another reason to try resistance training.
Healthy body fat levels play a major role in overall health. Resistance training burns fat long after your workout is finished. This, combined with a healthy diet can eliminate many of the health complications known to accompany diabetes.
Numerous studies found that moderate-intensity resistance training gives several of the above benefits. If you’re new to resistance training, it’s important to consult with your doctor before beginning a new program. Work with a fitness professional in the beginning to ensure that proper form is used. You’ll want to focus on doing exercises that use large muscle groups versus those that use smaller muscles.
A few exercises that target large muscle groups include squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, pushups, and a bent over row. For maximum benefits, the exercises should take effort and not be performed too easily.
How often you perform resistance training is also a determining factor of your results. Researchers found that it’s best to perform resistance training at least three times a week to yield results. Read more about how to incorporate resistance training in your lifestyle here.
Conclusion on Resistance Training and Diabetes
The absolute best exercise solution for people with diabetes is a combination of resistance training and aerobic training. Performing only one form of exercise without the other will inevitably eliminate numerous benefits.