We’re told time and time again that exercise is the key to a healthy lifestyle, particularly for those with selected medical conditions, including Type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise is fundamental to those with diabetes, to help sufferers maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
“Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, the insulin does not work effectively, or the cells of the body do not respond to insulin effectively,” explains Dr Tony Tanious from home doctor service, House Call Doctor.
“Exercise regulates insulin production, and that is why it’s exciting to see that less rigorous forms of training can help people with diabetes too.”
Examples of exercises that are proven to be effective for those with diabetes, include:
- Weight training – with a focus on building muscle mass, weight training is important as it’s harder for people who lose muscle mass to maintain blood sugar levels.
- Walking – there are many benefits to walking, particularly as it raises the heart rate.
- Swimming – this aerobic exercise doesn’t put any pressure on joints or the feet as other exercises do.
New research suggests participating in yoga may also help those with diabetes, as it not only encourages sufferers to be more active, but it may also reduce reliance on medication.
The Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome supported this finding, after discovering that after just 10 days of participating in yoga, Type 2 diabetes sufferers experienced a 10 per cent reduction in blood glucose levels. Close to 1,300 participants who took part in the study recorded lowered blood glucose levels after a single yoga session.
With such quick results, the researchers behind the journal were eager to see the long-term impact of practising yoga and encouraged participants to continue daily yoga for at least three months.
Other reported benefits include:
Building muscle strength
Yoga is known to build muscle strength by encouraging gentle stretching and in some cases holding body weight.
“In many ways, yoga can be just as effective as weight lifting when it comes to building stronger muscles,” Dr Tanious said.
“Instead of lifting weights yoga focuses on using your own body weight to build strength.”
Movements including chaturanga pose, chair pose, boat pose and warrior pose are quite popular in building strength and muscle tone.
Increases blood flow
Common yoga positions like mountain pose, downward dog and shoulder stands are beneficial for increasing blood flow. This is typically achieved by the stretching, deep breathing and muscle relaxation involved with yoga.
“Poor circulation can cause fluid retention and swelling in lower extremities, lack of energy and shortness of breath,” Dr Tanious said.
“Therefore, increasing blood flow and assisting the circulatory system is highly important.”
According to Dr Tanious, yoga requires a fluid movement of joints which helps carry fresh nutrients to cartilage and can assist with joint and cartilage health (as well as increasing blood flow).
Boosts the immune system
Along with a physical workout, yoga also helps to lower stress hormones, condition the lungs and flush the lymphatic system. This helps remove toxins from the body and oxygenate blood – boosting the immune system.
Mental health and mindfulness
Yoga is known to improve mental health, mindfulness and focus. It is suggested that regular yoga can help with reaction time, memory and coordination which can be beneficial for not only practising yoga but in all factors of everyday life.