Physical activity is important, especially for those of us living with diabetes. However, it can be overwhelming to know what to do, how much to do, and when. In general, exercising with diabetes is tricky. On the one hand, it can make your body more sensitive to insulin which can help you control the ups and downs of the disease. On the other, it can also cause dehydration, delayed onset hypoglycemia, and blisters, cuts, or injuries to the feet. None of which are good for T1Ds.
While you should always consult your doctor before starting a workout routine, many will suggest aerobic activities such as walking, jogging or running, tennis, swimming, or biking. They may also suggest strength training and yoga.
The powerful and calming benefits of yoga are beneficial to just about anyone. Among many things, this ancient mind and body practice is known for improving strength and balance, helping relieve chronic pain, and creating a concentrated calm that will ground you and relieve you from the stresses and worries of the day.
It also is found to lower your blood sugar and according to Today’s Dietician there is research to prove it. This article states that “yoga can decrease fasting blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce the need for diabetes medication, and lower stress hormone levels.” All things Type 1s need to focus on every day.
You’re probably wondering how and where to get started, especially if you’re new to yoga. While everyone is different and at various levels of practice, here are a few things to consider.
- Choose a style.
- Hatha Yoga is a gentle yoga that focuses on attaining balance through pranayama (breath) and asana (body). It is a great practice for beginners.
- Restorative Yoga focuses on holding poses longer for deep stretches, typically using supportive props.
- Yoga Therapy takes a holistic approach and isn’t limited to one particular yoga style. It often focuses on mental health and relieving physical pain due to chronic illnesses.
- Yoga Nidra focuses on deep meditation and is one of the easiest practices to develop and maintain.
- Find a class. Whether online or in-person, find an instructor and class you are comfortable with. While yoga can certainly be practiced on your own, if you’re just starting, it’s important to follow the proper techniques until you become more familiar with the practice.
- Practice often. The most important thing is to get started. Once committed, try to make yoga a part of your weekly routine. The more you practice, the better you’ll feel. The better you feel, the more benefits you’ll see.
- Bring a friend. Everything is better with friends, right? Bring your T1D and non-T1D friends along and reap the benefits of yoga together. You can hold each other accountable and develop a stress-free habit in the process.
The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week. Whether you break that down into 30 mins for five days or 50 minutes for three days, adding yoga into this weekly routine will not only make you stronger but will challenge you to focus on reducing stress and clearing your mind. What could be better?
Disclaimer: THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS A MEDICAL ADVICE. For those with existing medical conditions, those who are taking medications, or are uncertain about any information we share, proper consultation with your trusted physician is strongly recommended.