International guidelines on diabetes recommend aerobic and resistance exercise like Pilates
We all should know now the benefits of exercise in preventing and controlling diabetes, heart disease, vascular disease and even early onset dementia. Guidelines for exercise have always suggested medium to high intensity workouts 3 times per week to benefit from these exercise effects. There is now a mounting stack of evidence concluding that strength or resistance training has an equally positive effect on us. This is particularly so with respect to type 2 or non-insulin dependent diabetes.
I recently read a short grab in a health magazine. It read like this:
150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise + 60 minutes of resistance work per week = 40% drop in diabetes risk!
I was intrigued and so read further on this topic myself.
The website for the Joslin Centre for Diabetes research at the Harvard Medical School was a fantastic source of medical facts, recent research findings and practical tips for preventing and managing the disease. Here I have extracted some of the most interesting of facts and tips from my reading.
- High-quality studies establishing the importance of exercise and fitness in diabetes were lacking until recently (the past 10 years), but it is now well established that participation in regular physical activity at a moderate to high intensity improves blood glucose control and can prevent, delay and manage type 2 diabetes.
- The international guideline specifically recommends that such moderate exercise correspond to approximately 40% to 60% of maximal aerobic capacity and states that for most people, brisk walking is a moderate to high-intensity exercise.
- To measure 40-60% maximal aerobic capacity, the 'talk test' can be used as an additional suggested guideline. This 'talk test' recommends that you are able to maintain (just), a 'breathy' conversation with your exercise partner to estimate this level of effort.
- For people who already have type 2 diabetes, the new guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise spread out at least 3 days during the week.
- The international guideline also recommends that resistance training be part of the exercise regimen. This should be done at least twice a week — ideally 3 times a week — on non-consecutive days.
- Resistance training is defined as any exercise incorporating weight, whether that be through weights at the gym or home, body weight, resistance bands and the like.
- People with or without type 2 diabetes who perform resistance training strengthen their muscles. This results in a higher metabolism and more calories burnt, improving insulin sensitivity (glycaemic control, or ability and effectiveness for insulin to convert your sugars to energy). This also helps with weight loss, and may reduce the amount of diabetes medications required if already diagnosed as a diabetes sufferer.
Offering practical exercise sessions and advice about exercise, the Joslin Centre website had me thinking that many of our exercises at The Fix Program were very much similar to their programs. They suggested exercises such as weighted biceps curls, chest presses, tricep dips, squat, lunges and planks. Sound familiar?
Think of all those Pilates classes you have done at The Fix Program, with squats and lunges with weights from our beginners Pilates, wallplanks, 'mad minutes', 'skull crushers',' tree huggers' and 'scissor arms' from the advanced Pilates classes.
So, for all of you continuing with your classes with us currently, now all you need to do is add your 150 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise, and you are well on your way to reducing not only your type 2 diabetes risk, but other health risks also. For those of you not continuing currently with weighted exercise, try these suggested exercises from our Pilates classes for an hour in total over your week.
Squats and/or lunges with weighted biceps curls.
Try 3 sets of 10 squats/lunges with your arms curling. Don't forget your deep and wide breath, pelvis neutral awareness and activation of your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles throughout. Remember that a slow movement in each direction (in time with your deep breaths to really slow you down) will increase the demand on your muscles and therefore the beneficial effects at the cellular level as outlined above.
Scissor arms in sustained double float.
Try 2 sets of 10 scissor arms. Again, keep in time with your deep and wide breath and become aware of your trunk and pelvis postures. Remember the low but constant activation of your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles throughout.
Tree hugger in sustained pelvic bridge.
Try 2 sets of 10 tree huggers. Remember all of the above for a controlled and slow loaded exercise for maximum benefit.
On your elbows and toes/knees, hold your plank for 60 seconds. Remember your low and constant pelvic floor and deep abdominal contractions, soft neck, shoulder blades in your 'pockets' and a good neutral spine and pelvis.
I've chosen these 4 Pilates exercises as they maximise the resisted or weighted demand on the body. Target large and multiple muscle groups to maximise the benefits of muscle strengthening and the effectiveness of insulin.