Keeping your muscles active and healthy through regular resistance training will greatly improve your management of diabetes. Diabetes Canada recommends resistance activities two to three times a week.

Resistance exercise uses more muscles than just walking. It uses upper body muscles that are rarely used in modern society today.

Resistance training also maintains or increases lean muscle. This helps to burn calories at rest throughout the day. This is important for weight control and diabetes management, especially as we age.

REMEMBER: You don’t have to go to a gym to get the benefits of resistance training. All you need are simple forms of resistance such as:

  • Exercise bands.
  • Your own body weight.
  • Light dumbbells or hand weights.
  • Other items you may find around the house such as milk jugs filled with water.

Guidelines for resistance training

It is recommended that you see a diabetes care provider or a qualified exercise professional to learn how to do any resistance exercises.

Only do the exercises you are able to do

  • Make sure that you do not do any exercises that hurt (for example, sore shoulder or sore knee – see a physician or physiotherapist if you have any questions). Remember to check your feet daily.
  • If you have confirmed eye or kidney disease, discuss resistance exercises first with your physician or diabetes care provider.

Maintain stable and proper posture for each exercise

  • Keep your chest out.
  • Avoid rounding the shoulders or twisting your back.

Keep each movement slow and controlled

  • Three seconds up; three seconds down

Do not hold your breath

  • Exhale with effort.
  • Release your breath with each repetition.

Keep to a comfortable range of motion

  • Use a complete range that is comfortable for you.

Use an appropriate resistance

  • Pick a band that makes it moderately hard to do the exercise.

Increasing the resistance used

  • Change the length of the resistance band
    • Shorter band = harder
    • Longer band = easier

See the following video to learn more about resistance exercise. 

Disclaimer: Reliance on the information presented in these videos is at your own risk. Diabetes Canada, the creators, producers, performers, participants and distributors of this video disclaim all warranties, express or implied, and are not liable for any direct or indirect damages that may arise out of use of these videos, from the performance of the exercises demonstrated or the information contained therein, including but not limited to any injuries incurred while using the videos.

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