Diabetes Care: An Exercise That Is Good For Every Body

Now is always the perfect time to put on some loose, comfortable clothing and explore, or revisit the rejuvenating effects of yoga.

The many health advantages of a regular yoga practice make it worth giving some yoga poses a try. Just 20 or 30 minutes, two to three times per week can make the perks of bending, balancing, and stretching obvious.

Yoga and Diabetes Management

Beside the tremendous sense of ease and well-being it generates, yoga makes an excellent adjunct to any diabetes management routine. Like all exercise, it helps lower blood glucose levels, and yoga is beneficial for blood pressure, mood, balance, and weight loss:

  • Blood Sugar. Tensing and relaxing our muscles, and increasing their blood supply can improve their ability to take-in and utilize glucose, helping to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Blood Pressure. A review of 17 studies indicated the three elements of yoga - poses, mental focus, and controlled breathing - can significantly reduce blood pressure.
  • Yoga lowers the adrenaline, noradrenalin, and cortisol in our bloodstream as well. A decrease in these stress hormones not only relaxes the body, it likely improves insulin sensitivity, and glucose levels.
  • Mood. The same yoga elements that regulate blood pressure also benefit our mood. Steady breathing, postures, and focused attention boost the release of calming, and uplifting brain chemicals, and can substantially reduce anxiety.
  • Yoga can also help us accept the strengths and limitations of our body, and our life. “The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren’t enough,” wrote Amy Weintraub, a yoga professional.
  • Balance. Stability and balance can become an issue for those with diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy, and for some older adults. Yoga’s slow, measured movements and strengthening postures help people achieve better balance to prevent falls.
  • Practicing yoga also helps lubricate our joints and keep them flexible. Gently holding poses for up to 20 minutes can be especially nourishing for our joints.
  • Weight Loss/Maintenance. Yoga movements burn calories and tone muscle to help with weight loss, and a regular yoga practice shifts peoples’ focus from quick gratification toward well-being. This change in focus improves discipline, helping us choose to snack on carrot sticks dipped in hummus, instead of cookies.

Additionally, the weight-bearing postures in yoga strengthen our bones to help prevent fracture, and yoga movements stretch, and massage the pancreas which may stimulate its functioning.

Good For Every Body

You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, you just have to be willing to shake the dust off and see what happens. ~ David Good, yoga teacher

Most yoga poses can be modified to suit any fitness level—even the stiffest bodies can participate and benefit. Learning from a certified yoga instructor is recommended, but there are plenty of videos and online resources created for beginners, and people with physical limitations.

You can, for instance, go to Amazon or other video outlets and search for:

  • “yoga for beginners”
  • “chair yoga”
  • “yoga for seniors,” or
  • “yoga with disabilities”

You’ll find many enticing video workout options to choose from.

Source: Amy Paturel/AARP; YogaPoint
Photo credit: Rafael Montilla

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