Diabetes and Exercise: Tips For Getting Active When Overweight

Exercise is so important for good diabetes control, but starting a workout routine can be daunting for those who are overweight, or obese. Yet, taking a common sense, small-step approach can make exercise not only doable, but enjoyable.

First Steps

The first common sense step is letting a doctor determine whether we are healthy enough for physical activity, and what workout limitations or modifications are necessary owed to illness, injury, or our medications.

Once okayed for exercise, we need to acquire workout attire that’s comfortable, and easy to move about in. If local retailers do not carry plus size active-wear, it’s easy to find online. Footwear that provides protection, plenty of support, and cushioning is also a must.

Good Exercise Options

Finally, it makes sense to choose exercises well-suited for larger individuals, especially if we have been sedentary, and there are several suitable activities to choose from:

  • Hoofing It. Unless physical issues preclude it, walking is an excellent exercise that can be done almost anywhere. It's a low impact activity that strengthens the lower body, improves mobility, and easily accommodates a novice exerciser’s fitness level.
  • At first, consistency is more important than speed. Beginner’s might aim for a slow or moderate 10 to 15 minute walk every day, gradually working up to a half hour.
  • Pedal Power. Stationary bikes provide low impact workouts easily adjusted to different fitness levels. Those with back, joint, or balance problems might prefer a recumbent version of the exercise bike.
  • A less expensive option is using a portable peddle device that we can pump while sitting in our favorite chair, or working at a desk.
  • Water Wellness. Those with creaky or painful joints might enjoy water activities. Aqua jogging involves running in the pool’s deep end with the aid of a buoyancy belt. Water aerobics is a form of resistance training where exercise movements are performed in waist to chest deep water.
  • Though the water’s buoyancy takes pressure off wobbly joints, both aqua jogging and water aerobics take a fair amount of effort. Beginner’s need to start by moving slowly, and gradually build strength and endurance.
  • Gaining Strength. Whether we use dumbbells, resistance bands, weight machines, or kettlebells strength training increases the range of motion in our joints, helps correct posture problems, strengthens bones, and by building muscle it boosts our metabolism.
  • Getting advice from a personal trainer, or an online expert is recommended with strength training since proper technique is important for effectiveness, and to prevent injury.
  • Easy Does It. The slow, gentle movements of Tai Chi and Qigong make these great activities for sedentary people, and those with sensitive feet, or stiff joints. These mind-body exercises can enhance metabolism, muscle tone, mobility, and balance, while lowering blood pressure, and stress.
  • Technique is important when learning Tai Chi and Qigong, so taking classes with a certified teacher, or using expert video instruction is best.
  • Yoga is another excellent mind-body exercise option, but some types of yoga are more vigorous than others. Hatha yoga, taught by an expert, is a good choice for novices.
  • Strength in Numbers. A group exercise class can provide helpful instruction, encouragement, and social support, but make sure the class can accommodate a beginner’s fitness level and pace. It’s a good idea to let instructors know if we are exercise rookies before the first class begins.
  • Those who don’t feel ready to attend a group workout might try online or video routines. The instructors are generally motivating, and there are video workouts designed for sedentary, stiff, and (or) round bodies.

When starting to exercise, the only goal we need to have initially is doing whatever we can, consistently—whether it’s three minutes of pedaling, or 12 minutes of aqua jogging. As Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

Sources: Malia Frey / VeryWell; Mayo Clinic; Web MD; Dr Axe; Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: PBC Parks and Recreation

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