Author's Sidebar: Finding time to exercise has always been a struggle for me. Actually, I didn't really like exercising until I saw how it helped to lower my blood glucose and keep it there.
When I was younger, it was easy to exercise because most of my friends and colleagues played basketball and tennis. But, when we all got older, my friends gravitated to golf. However, I didn't like golf even with the all of the Tiger Woods craze that was going on at the time ...
So, instead, I try to exercise on my elliptical a few times a week, but I know that I need to do better :-) ...
Most people (including myself :-)) are aware that exercise is important and beneficial, but many of us either do not like to exercise or have the time to exercise. To further compound matters, some people exercise incorrectly and for the wrong reasons.
Consequently, people stop exercising after becoming bored, frustrated or discouraged due to the lack of progress in their health, weight loss or other health objective.
Actually, exercise may be the closest thing to a “fountain of youth”. By taking yourself from a sedentary state you can, in effect, reduce your biological age by ten to fifteen years. Researchers who have conducted extensive studies on fitness and mortality have concluded “moderate levels of physical fitness and exercise are protective against early mortality.”
Exercise imparts vigor and activity to all organs and maintains the healthful integrity of all their functions by improving the tone and quality of muscle tissue and stimulating the processes of digestion, absorption, metabolism, and elimination.
Exercise also strengthens the blood vessels, lungs, and heart, resulting in improved transfer of oxygen to the cells and increased circulation of the vascular and lymph systems.
In addition, studies indicate that physical activity promotes the growth of mitochondria (the cell “energy factories”), leading to increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that transfers energy between living cells; and, this increase in cellular energy can trigger fat burning.
Years ago, the physical activity from farming, steel mills and other labor industries served many purposes, including stress reduction, removal of food congestion and toxins, and the slow down of the aging process. But, when our society shifted from this industrial state to more of a service state (office work, computers), our level of physical activity and our children’s level of physical activity decreased dramatically.
According to Mark Fenton (the walking guru), “We are living in an epidemic of physical inactivity and improper nutrition.” Interestingly, exercise is a form of physical activity that was “created” to address this loss of physical activity. It was discovered that the loss of physical activity led to early deterioration of the body and its parts, and eventually degenerative diseases/ailments such as backaches, constipation, headaches, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis.
In general, aerobic exercise is important for improving your cardiovascular health. However, anaerobic exercise (weight-resistance training) as part of a circuit-training regimen that includes aerobics is the optimum form of exercise that provides the maximum health benefit.
Unfortunately, many people overdo the aerobic exercising to try to lose weight, and they end up losing lean muscle tissue, which lowers their metabolism rate, making it even more difficult to lose weight.
But, if you have been living a sedentary lifestyle, walking is the easiest form of exercise to get your body acclimated to moving again. You will need to initiate a gradual training regimen to prevent any unwanted injuries that many beginners experience due to their overcompensating for not exercising in years.
Consistency and low-to-moderate intensity exercise are the ways to introduce your body to exercise and fun; and, you can grow from there by finding other forms of exercise (e.g. gardening, sports, bicycling, skiing, swimming, dancing, trampoline jumping) that you may enjoy and actually not see as just exercise.
There are four major types of exercise
Stretching exercise is performed to passively or actively elongate soft tissue and muscles to improve the range of motion (ROM), reduce unnecessary muscle strains and tears, and provide flexibility.
Stretching your muscles increases flexibility and can help your body stay limber. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities.
Exercise examples include: light stretching, inversion table, yoga, and Pilates.
Balance training involves doing exercises that strengthen the muscles that help keep you upright, including your legs and core. These kinds of exercises can improve stability and help prevent falls.
Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults. Many lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.
Note: Flexibility and Balance exercises are low-impact exercises that put a lesser strain on your body physically. These types of exercise are especially beneficial to people dealing with health problems that limit their mobility and/or health problems that cause a lot of pain, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, injured knee.
Exercise examples include standing on one foot, heel-to-toe walk, Tai Chi.
Aerobic means oxygen. Aerobic exercise is continuous rhythmic movement of the major muscles groups without intermittent rest periods such that the muscles are working in an oxygen-rich state, which can cause the body to produce fat-burning enzymes under the right circumstances, e.g. after your body has burned off most of the glucose.
Examples of aerobic exercise include: walking, step aerobics, running, swimming, other water exercises, bicycling, dancing, skiing, jumping, cardio kick-boxing, and rowing.
Anaerobic means lack of oxygen. Anaerobic exercise consists of short bursts of body movements with some resistance such that the muscles are working in an oxygen-deprived state, which causes the body to produce glucose-burning enzymes. Because you are expending energy faster than the body can replace it by metabolizing oxygen, intermittent rest periods are required during the exercise session.
Anaerobic exercise puts the body into an anabolic state that builds lean muscle tissue and burns fat. Muscles that are already conditioned rely less on glycogen (stored glucose) and more on fat for fuel, so the muscles of a trained individual burn more body fat than those of people who do not exercise.
Examples of anaerobic exercise include: weight/resistance training, interval strength training, water exercise, and weight lifting.
Note: Recent studies show that high intense exercise of 6-10 minutes has more benefits than walking or jogging for 30 minutes. However, you must get your doctor's approval, especially if you haven't been exercising for years or you have a heart condition.
Beyond reducing your biological age, there are many physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits associated with exercise.
Stretching Exercise Benefits
- Increases blood flow to muscles to prepare them for exercise.
- Improves ability of muscles to stretch and elongate (to increase range of motion) and develop functional mobility.
- Increases muscle tone and firmness.
- Increases balance and coordination.
- Increases metabolism.
Balancing Exercise Benefits
- Improves your core
- Improves joint stability
Aerobic Exercise Benefits
- Improves cardiovascular endurance, strengthens the heart and bones.
- Increases oxygen intake, due to more deeply breathing causing oxygen to be received fully into the lungs and, into the blood stream. Makes the lungs better conditioned so that activities (e.g. climbing stairs) will not leave you breathless.
- Helps the lymphatic fluids to drain and circulate properly to increase immunity.
- Promotes sweating which helps to detoxify the body via the skin.
- Stimulates the immune system, putting more white blood cells including T-helper cells (made in the thymus gland) and macrophages (from arterial walls) into circulation.
- Helps to lower the total cholesterol, and, may increase the HDL (good) cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease.
- Helps to lower blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes the artery walls.
- Helps to release enzymes (e.g. hormone-sensitive lipase) to mobilize fat in adipose tissue
- Helps to increase insulin sensitivity so that glucose enters the cells and is burned as fuel.
- Helps to trigger the release of brain chemicals called endorphins that help improve mood, relieve stress and make you more productive.
Anaerobic Exercise Benefits
- Multiplies muscle strength, tone, and firmness.
- Helps tone the body by increasing muscle strength while burning fat.
- Reduces belly fat; also, reduces body fat, re-shaping the body.
- Develops strength of tendons and ligaments.
- Increases bone density and strength.
- Increases metabolism and intensifies fat loss (especially belly fat).
- Makes muscle cells more sensitive to insulin, increasing the uptake of glucose into the muscle cells to provide more energy.
- Boosts stamina, energy, and endurance.
- Develops functional mobility to improve day-to-day quality of life.
- Increases balance and coordination.
- Enhances mental clarity; improves attitude.
Exercise and Blood Sugar Levels
Concerning exercise and blood glucose levels, in general, we recommend the following guidelines:
Lower than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L). Your blood sugar may be too low to exercise safely. Eat a small balanced snack before you begin your workout.
100 to 250 mg/dL (5.6 to 13.9 mmol/L). You're good to go. For most people, this is a safe pre-exercise blood sugar range.
250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L) or higher. This is a caution zone — Your blood sugar may be too high to exercise safely. Before exercising, test your urine for ketones — substances made when your body breaks down fat for energy. The presence of ketones indicates that your body doesn't have enough insulin to control your blood sugar.
Another factor to consider is the intensity of your exercise. If your exercise is very intense, we recommend that you eat at least a small balanced snack before you exercise.
In addition, make sure that you measure your blood sugar after you exercise. Depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise, your blood sugar may be too low.
Ideally, you should wait at least 30 minutes after a meal before you exercise. If it's a large meal, then, wait at least an hour. The reason for this is because your body is exerting a lot of energy to digest your meal.
Once you have stabilized your blood sugars and lost any excess fat, you can improve your muscle tone by performing the following activities:
- Eat more protein, but, high quality protein only.
- Eat some additional high quality carbs and fats.
- Perform more anaerobic, strength-training and quick-burst exercises.
Key Point: Muscle tone means to have some amount of muscle on your body and then have a low enough body fat percentage so that this muscle can actually be seen.
The more muscle you have and the less fat you have covering it, the more “toned” you will appear to be. The more fat you have covering your muscle, the less visible it will be and the less “toned” you will appear.
What this means is, whenever a person says that they want to “tone up,” they’re actually saying that they want to be able to see their muscle better than they currently do.
In order to accomplish that, you must do one of the following:
- Burn and lose the fat that is covering your muscles.
- Build more muscle.
- A combination of both.
More often than not, too much fat covering your muscle is the Number 1 reason a person isn’t as toned as they would like to be. For some women (and, even some men), it is usually not having enough muscle in the first place (or a little bit of both) that prevents a person from appearing "toned".
However, muscle toning as a health goal should only be addressed if you have stabilized your blood sugars for at least 6 months. Why? Because excess blood sugar will cause your body to produce extra insulin, which is the hormone that tells your body to produce more fat!
Building muscle is not as easy as most people think. It takes hard work, planning, and an awareness of what stimulates muscle growth.
However, this kind of program should not be implemented if you're still struggling with your diabetes!
Eat Quality Protein: If you want to maintain a positive nitrogen balance and increase protein synthesis, you must get in enough protein. The FDA only recommends 0.8 grams/kg for protein intake, yet study after study shows the benefits and lack of side effects from an intake of 1 gram/lb of body weight.
Given the importance of protein in everything from building muscle, to neurotransmitter production, to being a structural component to every cell in your body, it only makes sense to ensure you aren’t too low on this essential macronutrient.
Eat Enough Calories: Nothing will inhibit muscle growth more than a lack of calories. Building muscle is a highly energy intensive task. For many people, they undergo the goal of building muscle at the same time as they are trying to lose weight.
If you are trying to accomplish these two goals at one time, you might want to consider cycling your calories so that you are eating more food on training days, and less on others. Doing so will ensure you’re getting the extra energy intake when it matters most for muscle growth.
If you're diabetic, we recommend that you focus on stabilizing your blood sugar and losing the weight (fat) first.
Use Compound Movements: Doing curls can build you some biceps, but heavy rowing movements like barbell rows and pullups/chinups will really make your arms pop. If you want a better butt and legs, you could go station to station doing hip abductor, leg extensions, leg curls, and other butt isolation exercises, or you could get under the bar and squat. If the exercise you’re doing only moves one joint, you are limiting your muscle building potential. Stick to compound exercises.
Don't Forget About the Core: Don't forget to strengthen your stomach and back muscles! And, don't forget to stretch your muscles, using techniques such as Pilates and yoga! Having strong arms with a weak stomach or weak back won't help you with your overall health in the long run!
Optimize Post-Workout Meal: No other meal will have as big of an impact on your muscle building than your post-workout meal. At no other time are your cells more receptive to receiving glucose, which, by the way, benefits you if you're diabetic.
This is a very anabolic time, and a meal containing carbohydrates and protein will ensure maximum protein and glycogen synthesis. Try to get your post-workout meal in within 2 hours after your workout for improved protein synthesis.
Get Quality Sleep: You stimulate muscle growth when you work out, but you build your muscle when you rest. A good night’s sleep provides a favorable metabolic and hormonal profile that is conducive towards building muscle.
Growth hormone is released throughout the night. This powerful hormone is anabolic to muscle tissue and catabolic to adipose tissue. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night at about the same time will ensure proper glucose regulation, cortisol control, and hormone production.
Reduce Stress: If you are under a lot of stress, your body produces cortisol, which inhibits growth hormone production and breaks down muscle tissue.
Be Patient: Putting on muscle is not as easy as it seems. Women in particular are fearful of weights because they’re afraid of bulking up. Here’s the thing though, you would be lucky to add even half a pound of muscle in a week’s time, and that is if everything is perfect and you’re eating a surplus of calories to support muscle growth.
Building muscle is hard work and takes time. Expect a year’s worth of strength and weight training to really start seeing dramatic changes in your physique.
If you want a lot of balanced diabetic recipes for meals, snacks, appetizers and desserts, then, get the 3-in-1 Diabetes Cookbook.
If you want to get a jumpstart and reduce the toxic load in your cells (and, stop the cravings), then, get the Cleanse and Detox ebook.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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