Recent research has supported the long held belief that regular exercise can help diabetics control their blood sugar and reduce their risk of kidney damage, eye damage, numbness, and other complications. Unfortunately, many older adults suffering from diabetes fail to capitalize on the benefits provided by exercise.
While it’s hard for everyone to develop and stick to a workout routine, don’t forfeit the opportunity to participate in one of the most effective ways to battle the symptoms of diabetes. Here are some simple exercises you can do each week—at any age—to improve your overall health and avoid complications.
Aerobic exercises have been found to affect insulin sensitivity for as much as 24 to 72 hours. Walk, run, cycle, or swim at least once every three days to help you earn maximum health benefits. All of these can be done indoors if the weather outside is bad.
If you choose to walk to jog, start slow—you can set a timer for 10 minutes. Make sure you are on level ground before you begin your walk. If you start to feel too tired before the time is up, take a break and slowly build up until you can reach the 10 minute threshold. Next, slowly work up toward a goal of 30 minute sessions.
Resistance training also has its benefits for diabetics. You don’t have to invest in expensive home gym equipment or pay for a health club membership to see results.
Elderly diabetics can start easily and inexpensively by purchasing small weights between 2 and 5 pounds. If you want, you can even use bags, soup cans, or dried beans of the same weight. Whatever you use, aim for 10 repetitions of bicep curls three times during the day. Do this every other day.
Try to do the same number of reps for your lower body. Go from a sitting position to a standing position 10 times, and repeat that process twice more during the day. Again, do this every other day.
Many elderly diabetics suffer from peripheral neuropathy. If you sometimes feel like you lose balance or awareness of your position in space, you likely are dealing with this condition. With help from a physical therapist, you can work on and improve your balance reactions. Even if permanent damage has been done, you can learn how to properly compensate to avoid falls and other injuries.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before beginning an exercise routine, discuss it with your healthcare provider. If it’s right for you, exercise may be one of the best things you can do to combat diabetes. Develop a plan, stick to it, and you should see some amazing results!