Give Diabetes the Boot: Fitness Boot Camp, That Is

If you like challenging, varied workouts that use little or no special equipment, and create a feeling of camaraderie among participants, you might enjoy a fitness boot camp.

Though boot camp routines vary, they are generally a mix-up of aerobic and muscle toning exercises designed to build strength, endurance, and agility. It is essentially a type of interval training where bursts of intense activity are alternated with periods of lighter activity.

Interval training is good for us because we have three types of muscle fibers: slow, fast, and super-fast. While typical cardio (aerobic) workouts exercise the slow ones, interval training strengthens our faster twitching fibers. This in turn provides a cascade of beneficial metabolic effects.

Theoretically, this type of exercise is good for every body; however, not everybody is ready for interval training.

Are You Ready?

If you like intense workouts, and have a good foundation in aerobic and strength training, you are likely prepared to participate in a fitness boot camp. Still, before signing up, it’s a good idea to ask whether the program has prerequisites, or if it’s suitable for any special needs or health issues you have.

Other questions to ask are:

  • Is this program a good balance of aerobic and strength training?
  • What are the instructor’s qualifications?
  • Is this boot camp a good match for my health and fitness goals?
  • What do those who went through this boot camp say about it?

Those of us who have not been exercising regularly, are over 40, have diabetes or other health issues, should talk to a physician before beginning any new exercise regimen—especially an intense one.

The Workout and Benefits

Should you pass muster for boot camp and decide to join, a well thought out program will help you meet the general exercise recommendations of twice weekly strength training, and 150 minutes moderate - or 75 minutes vigorous - aerobic activity each week.

To reach these recommendations, participants can expect to do calisthenics such as pushups, pull-ups, crunches and lunges, plus military-style drills, and sprints. Some classes might include yoga, Pilates, or martial art moves.

Beside the overall strength and conditioning provided, high intensity interval training burns more calories, in less time, than more moderate aerobic workouts. In one study, women who did high-intensity interval training for 20 minutes, three times per week, lost three times more body fat than women exercising at a regular pace for 40 minutes, three times per week.

A Bit of Motivation

Though not all of us are boot camp material, exercise is aces at preventing or controlling chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Each of us needs to regularly engage in physical activities that we enjoy.

“Exercise is simply one of the most powerful tools available to drop your insulin levels, and elevated insulin levels are one of the primary drivers for [chronic] illnesses and weight gain. It is my belief that properly performed exercise is far more powerful for controlling symptoms than any drug yet developed.” ~ Dr. Joseph Mercola

Mayo Clinic; Mercola; Mercola Fitness
Photo credit: Raj Taneja

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