You're already walking now is the time to add strength training. It's the whole body diabetes healer. As you build lean muscle, you body clears more sugar from your blood. It's that simple.
So where do you start? Do you need a trainer? Do you have to join a gym? Stop hold the presses. Start small and build.
- Weight: Beginners should start with light hand weights (yes dumbbells). This weight will be different everyone. Experiment until you find a weight that you can lift straight over your head (called a military press) 20 times in a row. Don't have weights, start with soup or vegetable cans...full not empty.
- Repetitions: Also called "reps" this is the number of times you will perform the exercise at one time. It is recommended that you start with 20. The last three to five reps are the most important because they're the ones that actually build lean muscle mass. Keep your form good all the way to the end, increasing the weights only when your reps become easy.
- Sets: A "set" is one complete series of repetitions. Do three sets per exercise. The final set should be difficult, causing exertion.
- Number of exercises: Some people prefer to spend an entire session on a region of the body (say the entire torso, arms, shoulders, chest, and back or the lower body, legs, gluteals, an lower back).
- Days per week: Start with two or three days per week, always resting your muscles a day in between. Consistency is essential, so get into the habit.
- Confuse your muscles: Our bodies are exceptionally adept at adapting to change. If you do the same workout with the same amount of weight week after week, you muscles will say "ho-hum" and won't improve. So mix it up.
Location isn't everything. Where you work out is far less important than doing it with consistency. Some of my patients love the resistance machines at their local gym, as they do offer the advantage of providing support for your back.
Mirror, mirror on the wall: it's not vanity, it's mindfulness. Strength-training in front of a mirror is extremely helpful in noticing a crooked arm or uneven lift for monitoring your overall form.
Top 10 Strength Training Tips
- Hydrate: Drink two large glasses of water an hour before your workout, and keep you water bottle with you to sip between sets. Weight training should make you thristy. If it doesn't, you may need to increase your weight.
- Eat something to power your workout: Yogurt with nuts...whole grain bread with a smear of peanut butter and a glass of milk...a banana. Whatever healing food suits you, keep it light and eat it 45 minutes to an hour before you begin.
- Raise your temp: Climb on a stationary bike or stairmaster to warm up. (You can also do five to ten minutes of brisk walking). Raising your body temp primes your muscles for weight-bearing activity and gets your heart pumping, giving you more strength when you begin.
- Snack afterward: Eating an apple, banana, or orange plus some protein after a workout feeds your muscles and replenishes your blood sugar. (You can add a piece of cheese to your fruit, or fork up a little tuna or salmon.) And keep hydrating, because water flushes toxins from your body.
- Get a lesson in good form: Sloppy form leads to injuries. Ask a local trainer to give you a one-hour session on how to lift.
- Go slowly: Weight training isn't about speed. In fact, it's more beneficial when done slowly and deliberately, with attention to form. Like yoga, this mindfulness creates a calming meditative space while you're working out.
- Isolate muscles for the best results: When you first start working with weights, it's natural to tense up your whole body when you lift. Instead, focus all that tension solely on the muscles that you're working, relaxing those that aren't directly involved (like your other hand and your jaw).
- Breathe!!!! Holding your breath during a lift can spike your blood pressure. Remember: inhale first and exhale while you lift. Inhale again as you release.
- Stretch: After a lifting session (and between sets), stretching keeps you muscles loose and flexible. Always give yourself a day off between sessions so muscles can rest and repair.
- Pain isn't helpful: Forget the adage "No Pain, No Gain." If an exercise hurts, stop immediately, you could be hurting yourself. Overworking (or poor form) can cause torn tendons.
- Builds energy, which improves your metabolism, which in turn helps you lose fat while gaining lean muscle. Muscle uses a lot more energy than fat, even when you're just relaxing on the couch.
- Leads to more efficient use of energy, including glucose and the calories you take in. Calories are needed to power your workout, and you'll be using plenty!
- Brings greater flexibility. Incorporating a range of motion in your routine improves flexibility in your joints.
- Strengthens your bones. Weight-bearing exercise has been proven again and again to build strong bones...and protect against osteoporosis...because it signals your body to send more calcium to bones, increasing their density.