'Health & Lifestyle' is a weekly column on how lifestyles impact on health and wellness.

At the very heart of the battle against diabetes are physical activity and a healthy diet.

Both go hand in hand, and the process of weight loss itself is more significant and lasting when approached through the ammunition of a good lifestyle.

Exercise itself can be categorised as aerobic exercises and resistance training (weights training). But these are just what you do at a gym. There is a wide range of other forms, including dancing, martial arts, playing a game or even yoga, says V.Mohan, chairman, Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMVDSC) .

Throwing in a mix would be ideal, he says. “Instead of running for over an hour, I tell people to run for half an hour, then do stretches for 20 minutes, maybe follow this up with some weight training and yoga,” Dr. Mohan explains.

The minimum recommendation for exercise for everyone is at least half an hour every day, so that they do not step into a sedentary pattern that will then throw the doors open for a number of lifestyle-related diseases.

“Losing weight is a different proposition – that will require up to an hour of aerobics and then weights training to actually lose the kilos and inches,” Dr. Mohan says. Yoga, his team at DMVDSC has found, has a de-stressing effect too, and in addition with meditation, works wonders on mind control.

On the occasion of the inaugural of Diabetes 2010, an exhibition organised by DMDSC, a special exercise DVD for diabetics was released.

This DVD contains information that addresses issues such as exercising when overweight, with weak knees, and perhaps with diabetic neuropathy (loss of sensation) or foot ulcers, says R. M. Anjana, consultant diabetologist, DMVDSC.

“The DVD focusses on foot problems, amputations, deformities and how to exercise. We have shown exercises you can do seated, with lesser effort, in addition to the more strenuous stuff for those who are active. For our patients we also provide supervised one-on-one training,” she adds.

Wearing appropriate footwear is also recommended for diabetics in order to avoid injuries to the feet. Dr. Anjana also cautions against fasting or skipping meals to lose weight. “Skipping a meal is not good for a diabetic. Eat regularly, choose foodstuff that is high on fibre, low in fat, and take boiled or steamed over fried food.”