Millions of people across the nation have diabetes or pre-diabetes. The right diet and workout routine can make a big difference in your blood glucose levels and overall well-being. Learn more about the advantages of functional fitness and diabetes.

Always consult with your doctor prior to starting any exercise and/or diet program.

  • Woman Tying Shoe While ExercisingSome people with diabetes have not exercised in years. The idea of engaging in a grueling fitness routine could be overwhelming or discouraging. Fortunately, there are exercise programs for every fitness level. Some even make it possible to exercise your body while sitting down. Suzanne Andrews, an occupational therapy practitioner with over 25 years in the industry, has developed an easy 25-minute workout to boost circulation and help minimize diabetes complications. People can sit or stand to get essential exercise each day and safely progress at their own pace. A special 25-minute, low-impact workout is available for people who have been advised to shed pounds to manage diabetes.
  • Silver Sneakers is an exercise program that makes it easier for people with diabetes to get fit while progressing at their own pace. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer Silver Sneakers for free which is a worthwhile benefit. Classes vary by location and some offer exercise programs while sitting down while others offer beginning swim aerobics. They also encourage socialization which can help people with diabetes reduce stress and better manage their condition. FLEX programs are conducted outdoors, at parks and recreation facilities, to get people outside for fresh air and vitamin D from the sun while they exercise. Park settings also offer Tai Chi classes which can enhance functional fitness while teaching discipline and reducing stress. Functional fitness routines can even be done at home with fitness balls, stretch bands or kettle bells. Boot camps include functional fitness by carrying tires and climbing ropes.
  • The basic meaning of functional fitness is to train your body to handle real-life situations and manage conditions such as diabetes. For example, if you lift a heavy bag of groceries and have an injury to your back, it is likely you have not considered functional fitness. Functional fitness exercise is the latest buzzword at gyms; it teaches the muscles to work together, rather than isolating them. That means instead of just using your elbows, you would add the shoulder, spine, hip and knees for a more complete movement. Some functional fitness exercises are done with free weights, such as ones that involve bending and lifting. These exercises emulate activities done in real-life, such as bending down to pick up a loaded grocery bag or playing a game with your grandchildren. Functional fitness exercise often has people standing on their two feet, supporting their own weight, while they lift weights. In the beginning, these exercises might not be done with any weights. People first learn how to balance their own bodies while performing lifelike movements, such as squatting and bending. It is important to switch sides to promote equal balance and muscle integration since everyone generally has a weaker side. Developing greater balance and control can help people with diabetes get stronger, fuel future workouts and avoid accidents during their usual daily activities. Many gyms offer functional fitness programs or you can consult with a physical therapist or personal trainer to learn more.
  • Basic workouts can also help people with diabetes improve balance, manage blood glucose levels, relieve stress, feel energized and shed pounds. Taking a daily walk is a good way to get back on the fitness track. Start by walking for 10 minutes and build up slowly. Your goal is to walk for a half hour, five times a week. You can also break the walks up into 10-minute intervals, three times a day, to workout for a full 30 minutes. Wear an Omron pedometer to gauge your progress and encourage yourself to keep going a little further and faster each day.

Diabetes can become a debilitating disease, but it doesn’t have to be. Proper diet and regular exercise can make a difference by making people stronger, healthier and more balanced. Talk to your health care team about functional fitness and how it can lower blood glucose levels, give you more strength and boost your energy to tackle routine activities with ease.