5 Things to Keep in Mind While Strength Training As a Diabetes Patient


For a lot of newly diagnosed diabetes patients, it is surprising to learn that they are advised against doing intense exercises. Since diabetes is a lifestyle problem that is usually brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle, correcting the course seems like the remedy. But intense exercises and abrupt lifestyle changes can put stress on the whole body, including blood sugar levels. 

The human body is a system that warrants balance. So it is crucial that diabetes patients gradually start practising habits that will help them in the long run. Amongst these activities, strength training is considered as one of the best activities that can help in diabetes management and even has claims of being able to slow down ageing. While most diabetes patients were earlier suggested to do aerobic activities like brisk walking, running, or swimming that will help them lose weight, newer research from publications like the internal journal of cardiology claims that strength training is also a worthy 

Keep reading to learn more about strength training, and how it can be used to effectively manage diabetes. 

Why Are Patients Advised Against Overtraining Themselves? 

When a patient is living with diabetes, their body is very sensitive to the changes that it is put through. When performed without expert guidance, or restrain, excessive activity can lead to many problems in diabetes patients.

High amounts of exertion, whether that is cardio or strength training, can directly affect blood sugar levels. Especially when a patient is on certain diabetes medications, blood sugar level can drop too low or rise too high without warning. And unless the patient is aware of this risk, it can be cause for emergency attention. 

In advanced cases of diabetes, there are instances where patients overwork themselves due to the lack of sensation in their limbs. Imagine having diabetes that is so far gone, that the patient can’t recognize when they’re legs can’t take it anymore. When a patient continues to put pressure on existing foot ulcers or injuries, this can lead to further infection. This is known as peripheral neuropathy and is a very real problem to be vary of.

Diabetes and vision-related problems, also known as retinopathy, is a common concern for most patients. When a patient performs exercises that are too intense or can alter the pressure levels in the eyes such as heavy lifting or pushing, it can lead to further vision complications.

The Benefits of Practicing Strength Training With Diabetes

Although the benefits of strength training are manifold, a lot of patients face trouble starting with the practice. This is because unlike running or aerobics, strength training requires a set of dedicated equipment and expert guidance. But alternative forms of exercise like strength training and high-intensity interval training have been proven to require less time from people, and often give better results. 

In addition to helping in losing weight, resistance/strength training has been recognized as an approach that can help in boosting bone density, enhancing insulin sensitivity, improving heart health, preventing age-related muscle loss, and even reduces the risks for peripheral neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy. 

What To Keep In Mind While Strength Training For Diabetes 

Strength training is definitely not as easy as putting on your shoes and going for a run, or following along to aerobics videos. Seeking out the help of an expert trainer, and following along to the plan that they create for you, is the best course of action to take. But even in this case, make sure that you: 

  • Have a word with your healthcare team
    Before you get started with any exercise, make sure that you have a conversation with your trusted doctor. You should also make sure that your blood sugar levels are closely monitored while you start on a new workout programme, to keep the doctor alert about any potential problems. Your doctor may also be to assist you in coming up with a dietary plan that works with your new regimen.
  • Seek out the help that you need
    To make the most of your strength training workouts, it is best to seek out the help of an expert trainer. In case you need assistance in getting nutrition guidance, or even in keeping track of your blood vitals, seek out the help that you need. This could be in the form of either experts or digital health apps.
  • Plan out your exercise and follow diligently
    When working with a fitness trainer, they are sure to give you a  plan that works each part of your body equally. They will also include moves that target multiple body sections at the same time. Following these plans consistently is the only way to form the habit of strength training, and reap all its many benefits. If you’re working out frequently, make sure that you don’t overdo it.

  • Give yourself recovery time
    While working out consistently is important, taking necessary breaks are just as important. Make sure that you plan your recovery days, just like you would your training days. Taking time for recovery doesn’t mean staying on the couch all day, but rather doing lighter moves or even stretches that don’t strain your body as much. Foam rolling, yoga or low-intensity cardio exercise are also great ways to have active recovery days. 
  • Use different tools to make the most of your exercise
    While free weights and exercise machines are commonly used in Indian gyms, don’t be afraid of trying your hand at using the barbells, resistance bands, kettlebells and even medicine balls and filled duffel bags. If you’re working out at home, you can try using different makeshift weights for strength training such as water cans, book-filled bags, or packets of grocery items. 

While it is important to diagnose diabetes at the right time and take the right medications for its treatment, it is just as important to make lifestyle changes. Strength training can help you in managing your diabetes effectively, and help in preventing further complications from it.

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