BENGALURU: Anyone, at any age can be prone to having diabetes. While Type 1 diabetes is largely found in the young, Type 2 diabetes is highly prevalent in adults and the elderly. In Type 2 diabetes, the blood sugar levels are high because the insulin produced by the pancreas is not used by the cells properly. One of the main causes of Type 2 diabetes is increased body weight. Consequently, regular exercise plays a key role in managing diabetes in older people.
Through daily exercises, older people can improve their glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity. One can effectively lose the extra weight and lower the blood sugar levels. But remember, the older you get, the more careful you need to be while physically exerting yourself.
Walking is one of the most popular and beneficial forms of exercise for diabetics because it can be done anywhere and is inexpensive. Carrying out aerobic activities such as walking, for 30 minutes a day, help in increasing your heart rate. Make sure you choose a pair of comfortable shoes. Start slowly. At the beginning, set a short target and increase the distance and speed gradually. Don’t stick to a monotonous routine. Mix it up by change the location on a regular basis in order to keep things interesting.
Practising yoga can ensure healthy pancreatic functioning. As you perform asanas that are directed at the alternate contraction and relaxation of muscles, especially in the abdomen, the supply of oxygenated blood to the pancreas is boosted. This revitalizes the functioning of the pancreas and increases its insulin producing abilities. Furthermore, yoga helps in simultaneously reducing body fat while also reducing stress levels.
Tai Chi is an enjoyable and gentle form of exercise that stimulates mental relaxation. A lot of people with diabetes have to deal with peripheral neuropathy, which can be seen is how a patient loses balance. The slow and relaxed movements of Tai Chi can improve your balance and works towards reducing nerve damage as well.
Swimming can be a great form of exercise for the elderly as it stretches out the body without exerting any pressure on the joints. Old age results in vulnerability of the bones and joint aches as well. Thus, swimming can give you the necessary exercise without being a burden later on. Through swimming one can reduce cholesterol levels, bring down stress and burn calories. In order to get the most from it, swim thrice a week for at least 10 minutes.
Strength training refers to working on your muscles by using weights. Building muscle mass is essential for those with Type 2 diabetes. With increased muscle mass, you can easily maintain your blood sugar levels. For older people, it is vital to start small. Doing 10 repetitions of bicep curls can be a boon for you.
Set attainable goals each day and gradually increase your workout. Remember, whatever form of exercise you pick, make sure you enjoy it.
Consultant Diabetologist and Endocrinologist Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road