If you have diabetes, then try strength training to keep it under control.

If you have diabetes type I and type II, you might want to consider strength training. Resistance training is another form of exercise that is beneficial for those with diabetes. Insulin users for lowering blood glucose also need to get advice from their doctor. Some trial and error may be required because blood glucose can respond differently in individuals who exercise and use various medications or insulin. Our body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in muscles and liver. Weight training also increases your metabolism—even after you have finished with your workout. A faster metabolism not only helps you burn more calories, it helps insulin work well, too.


Here are some basic guidelines and safety precautions for a person with diabetes who wants to start a weight-training programme: Talk with your healthcare professional before starting a weight-training programme and consult with him or her if any problems arises with your diabetes control. Start out using low weights and higher reps, while concentrating on your form. It's a good idea to work with a personal trainer for a few sessions to help tailor your programme to your needs and to make sure you are doing it right. Do not hold your breath when you lift weights; this raises blood pressure. Avoid doing an exercise that causes pain. Any exercise that causes pain in a joint or a sharp or shooting pain should be avoided.

Comprehensive Training

Below is an example of training programme for Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes, with progression advice that combines both aerobics and weight training. It does not assume much previous physical activity. A combination of aerobic exercise and strength training —as for healthy people — is likely to be the ideal combination of physical activity for diabetics but it should be followed under supervision for safety and best results.

Aerobic exercise: Walk, jog, on the treadmill or outdoors for 30 minutes at low - moderate intensity. Intensity would be in the range 60 per cent to 70 per cent of maximum heart rate or at a pace at which you can still talk easily. Swimming and cycling are fine for aerobic conditioning, but you don't get the advantage of bone building that you do with impact exercise. Generic, step and pump group aerobics classes are excellent.

Weight training: The individual exercises are not that critical, but you need to work all of the major muscle groups including the upper and lower legs, arms, shoulders, back, chest, abdomen and buttocks. The reason for this is that the more muscle you exercise and build, the more depots for glucose disposal and storage you create.

Do 8 to 10 exercises including 2 - 3 sets of 15 - 20 repetitions in each set. Adjust the load so that you can get through a complete set and the final repetition, say number 15, is getting a little harder to do. At the end of the third set of any exercise you should be working somewhat hard.

Warm up and cool down before and after a workout respectively is mandatory. If you are doing weights and cardio on the same day, try doing the weights first as it will help lowering the blood sugar level and also help burn more fat as fuel. If you have diabetes, strength training can improve your quality of life by allowing you to continue to perform everyday activities such as walking, lifting, and climbing stairs as you get older.

Benefits of Strength Training

If you have diabetes, research has shown that strength training can:

Improve insulin sensitivity

Improve glucose tolerance

Help you lose weight

Lower your risk for heart disease

Y. Ramakrishna is a Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist at FitnessOne India Ltd.