All diabetics are told by their health professionals, whether they be a GP, Endocrinologist or Exercise Physiologist, that they need to make drastic lifestyle modifications if they want their lives to be as minimally impacted as possible by this potentially life threatening condition.
The primary goal in any Diabetic’s lifestyle modification is to keep blood glucose levels under control. A common comorbidity of Diabetes is Cardiovascular disease (CVD), or any disease that effects the healthy function of your heart and vascular system. Therefore, a secondary goal is to prevent the development of such conditions for those who are CVD free.
Diet is of course of crucial importance to achieve these primary and secondary goals. But that is for another article. Exercise type is what will be explained in this article.
Cardiovascular training, at the right intensity is a great way to improve and maintain heart health and reduce the risk of progression of Cardiovascular disease. However, research shows that when insulin resistance is the cause of Diabetes – during prolonged cardio training, blood sugar concentrations for some people can actually show no improvements after this form of exercise, or even increase. This is because glucose is not being used effectively by the working muscles as there is a resistance to insulin, which is crucial for allowing glucose to enter muscle cell membranes to be used as a source of energy. Also, as the body recognises there is a stress placed upon it (exercise), your liver will release extra glycogen into your bloodstream for use as energy – but this energy is not being used efficiently!
On the contrary, research shows that resistance exercise places a different type of stress on your body – a stress that allows your muscles to use the stored glycogen released from your liver far more efficiently. Resistance training does not need to be about lifting 150kg off the floor – it can be much more simple. Using the right load, machine weights, dumbbells, therabands and body weight can do a great job of regulating blood glucose. Muscular contractions within the correct repetition ranges can increase insulin sensitivity up to 48 hours post work out. There is not presently a clear-cut explanation for this, however there are associations with an elevated level of a protein called GLUT-4 after RT, which is responsible for transporting glucose across the cell membrane, to be used as energy.
I am not saying to stop doing cardio. What I am saying, is to incorporate resistance training as well. These two exercise types combined have a huge impact on cardiovascular health and blood sugar regulation, and both need to be applied regularly, in any Diabetics exercise regime. Come and see your nearest Optimum Health Solutions studio to obtain a resistance training program that’s suitable for you.