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A Diabetes Friendly Resistance Workout for Beginners

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There’s no better way to prevent and manage symptoms than good old fashioned exercise and healthy eating, particularly for those with type 2 diabetes. Exercising consistently helps to improve blood glucose levels, lose weight, and promote well-being. 

But what kinds of exercise should people with diabetes be doing?

When looking for a diabetes-friendly workout, especially for people with type 2, introducing cardio and resistance training are key to help with insulin resistance. Plus, these can help with joint pain when done within your limits for your body.

That’s why I’ve consulted with Holly Pinkham of Renewal Fitness Coaching who is a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, gym manager and all out awesome person to create a workout plan to help you.

Below you’ll find a series of exercises that are diabetes-friendly and that anyone from beginners to advanced exercisers can do – even at home!  As with anything else, consult your doctor before beginning any new workout regimen. According to the ADA, women with diabetes should engage in at last 150 minutes of moderate-to-high volumes of aerobic activity on 3-7 days of the week.  

Start by performing this routine 2 days per week, and work up to 4-5. On the other days, perform cardio exercise, such as 30 minutes of jogging, biking or swimming, or 15-20 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT).

 Diabetes Friendly Exercise Routine:

1.      Jog in place – 1 min

This is perfect for helping to get your heart rate up and blood flowing.  Jog at your own pace and don’t pressure yourself into feeling like you need to go faster.

2.      Chest press

There are two ways to do this: with a pair of dumbbells or by using a wall.

With dumbbells – lie on the ground or a bench and hold the dumbbells facing away from you with arms at 90 degree angles. Lift your arms up over your chest and extend until arms are straight, bringing the weights together over your chest.  Return to the start position in a slow, controlled manner.  Repeat 10-15 times, then relax.  Three sets of ten should be your goal.

Without dumbbells – Stand facing a wall with your hands level to your chest.  Now walk your feet backwards a little bit so your body is at an angle.  Now extend your arms like you’re doing a push up except using the wall instead of the floor.  For more resistance, step back further.  3 sets of 10 is a great way to start.

3.      Squat-to-press

This is another exercise that should be done with either dumbbells or resistance bands and tubes.  Start with the dumbbells or handles of the resistance tubes at shoulder height.  Now lower into a squatting position then return to standing.  Upon returning to the standing position, extend your arms upwards until straight, but not locked out. Do three sets of 10 for your workout.

4.      Standing back row

Resistance tubes or xfit loops are needed for this one.  Loop the resistance band or tube around something anchored or stable.  Hold the handles of the tubes in your hands or the loop and step backwards so that it is not stretching, but is now horizontal with the ground.  With your hands at level with your mid-section and palms facing the ground, pull your elbows back until they pass your sides, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together.  Slowly return arms forward.  Three sets of 15 should be your goal to start.

5.      Kneeling crunch

For these, secure the tube or resistance band to the top of a closed door or something secure, stable and high above you.  On your knees, hold the handles of the tube near your shouders or the lower part of the band and pull the band forward and downward so that you work your ab muscles, in the same motion as you would do on the floor with a standard sit-up.  Now extend back up.  Repeat 10-15 times, and complete 3 sets.

6.      Lunge with bicep curl

Start by placing the reisstance tube or xfit band below your front foot.  Take a large step backwards with your other foot.  Now lunge downward with your extended leg.  As you come up, do a bicep curl.  Repeat ten times on each leg for three sets.

7.      Tricep push-downs

Just like with the kneeling crunch, you’ll want to loop the band on something high and secure.  Make sure the resistance band is above your head, then hold one handle in each hand, or hold the end of a loop band in both hands placed close together. With your elbows lined up with your sides, extend your arms downwards until straight, being careful not to let your elbows move forward and back. Slowly return to a 90-degree angle. Complete 12-15 reps and repeat 3 times.

You can buy xfit resistance bands, tubes and loops by visiting our partner store ProSourceFit.com.

About Holly Pinkham:

Holly Pinkham is a certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, certified yoga instructor, group fitness instructor, and foam rolling specialist, and has competed in the NPC bikini division. She manages a gym in Los Angeles, CA, and owns an online fitness coaching business, Renewal Fitness Coaching. Holly is passionate about helping people achieve physical strength and body transformation, as well as mental and emotional transformation that leads to long-lasting change. Her personal weight loss and muscle gain help her to understand and adapt to every client’s unique needs and desires, and she doesn’t believe in cookie-cutter programs. She likes to make clients feel comfortable and capable while having fun and teaching safe, smart and effective methods to achieve their goals.

About Mila

Hi! I'm Mila.

I’m earning my Master’s degree in Applied nutrition.

I’m a journalist and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach living with  LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults, a slow-progressing form of autoimmune Type 1 diabetes) I love food, travel, and my kitchen, and teaching you about diabetes self-management.

I’m here to help you live your best life possible diabetes by showing you how to create simple, blood-sugar friendly and delicious meals and tips on diabetes self-care.

Be sure to download my FREE Diabetes Community App Glucose Guide, or reach out for FREE 1:1 diabetes health and habit coaching.

How can I help with your diabetes management?

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