All physical activity is good for people with diabetes, but different types of exercise can present different benefits. The two main types of exercise are aerobic exercise and resistance exercise.
Types of exercise
The Canadian recommendations for exercise for people with diabetes include both aerobic (physical activity that increases the heart rate and the body’s use of oxygen) and resistance exercises (e.g. lifting weights).
Aerobic exercise has many health benefits such as improving heart health, helping control blood sugar, and assisting in weight management. Examples include running, swimming, and biking.
Resistance exercise (also known as strength training) helps build muscle and bone, and also plays a role in controlling blood sugar. Resistance exercises may include the use of external resistance force from dumbbells, weight machines or resistance bands. Alternatively the body’s own weight can be used as the force, and can include push-ups, sit-ups and abdominal curls.
Flexibility and balance are important as we age, due to loss of muscle strength and joint flexibility. Incorporating balance and stretching exercises into your physical activity routine can provide many benefits including decreased risk of falls, improved posture and increased overall mobility.
Mixed exercise, which includes combining aerobic and anaerobic workouts (e.g. circuit training), can significantly improve cardiovascular fitness, strength, speed and overall health. It also helps to maintain muscle, and improve bone density, flexibility, balance and agility. One of the biggest benefits is the time that you can save when you combine both types of workouts into one.
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