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What form of exercise is good for diabetics?

Q: I am a 33 years old diabetic. I go for walks for an hour or so five times a week. I would like to know what form of walking is most effective in my condition? Do I need to cover a specific distance or a specific amount of time has to be spent walking? What matters more - intensity or duration? Could this be done in parts too?

A:Walking is considered one of the best forms of cardio-vascular/aerobic exercises that use the large muscles in the body. There are 3 factors to consider when undergoing any cardiovascular exercise: time or duration, frequency and intensity. Depending on your goal, the time factor can be anywhere from 10 minutes, 6 times a day, to 20-60 minutes at one stretch. So yes, to answer your question, it can be split up and still be gained from! As regards frequency, again depending on your goal from health benefits to weight loss to gaining stamina, it grades from 3-6 times a week respectively. That is if you are taking an approximate 40-min walk into consideration. Intensity is a bit more complicated to explain. Although brisk walking would mean different paces for different people, depending their age, level of fitness and their health conditions, one way to quantify it technically is to walk with your heart rate showing a reading of between 65-85% of your maximum heart rate. (To calculate your maximum heart rate (or max HR): minus your age from 220 to get your theoretical max HR). Very fit men should be able to cover a distance of 6-8 kilometres walking for an hour that is about 120 steps a minute. For women, make that approximately 140 steps walking at the speed of 6 km/hour. Taking your age and health conditions into consideration, (I don't know how long you have been walking since), you are doing pretty well. You have to remember that you need to build up your pace over a period of time, to avoid injury and bringing on adverse health reactions. Give yourself a goal to work towards and try and achieve it within a specified period but take note of the difficulties you are facing. Maybe you could start off by attempting to finish 6 kms in an hour. Then with the next month, work yourself to try and do another 1/2 km. One tip to help you achieve this is to walk with a streamlined body – i.e. arms close to your body, preferably bent at the elbows (at right angles) and move them forward and back to help you gain momentum in your stride. Remember, do not push your self too hard and the benefits will be yours! And one of the best ways to counter the effects of diabetes is to walk.


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