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The Best Exercises for Seniors with Diabetes

By Ted Holmgren, 9:00 am on November 9, 2015

Keeping an elderly diabetic physically fit and active is vital when providing the type of home care Chandler seniors can rely on. In addition to the other health benefits regular exercise can provide, it can also help keep A1c and blood glucose levels consistently lower and can prevent insulin resistance by making the body more sensitive to insulin levels. The following exercises may be helpful if your senior loved one has diabetes. 

Strength Training 

Strength training is a popular form of exercise because it offers many different options. Your loved one can do it with no equipment by doing pushups, crunches, leg squats, and similar exercises. Likewise, he or she can get free weights or weight machines for the home or go to a gym to strength train with help from a Chandler caregiver. Strength training can increase muscle mass, which directly correlates with increased insulin sensitivity and consistently improved levels of blood glucose. Better levels of glucose can lead to your loved one needing less diabetic medication and being healthier overall. An additional benefit of strength training for seniors is a reduced risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Tai Chi

A Chinese form of exercise based on slow, smooth movements with the goal of relaxing and strengthening the mind and the body, Tai chi is a great choice for seniors with diabetes. In addition to increasing flexibility and mobility, Tai chi has been shown to reduce and prevent nerve damage, a serious concern for diabetics. Seniors who have had diabetes for a long period of time are at the greatest risk for developing nerve damage. One University of Florida study in 2009 compared a control group of diabetics who did not practice Tai chi to a group who did so regularly. The group who practiced Tai chi showed reduced nerve damage and consistently lower levels of blood sugar with less spikes. 

Swimming 

Swimming is both enjoyable and effective for any age, but is ideal for seniors with diabetes. Oftentimes, seniors face challenges with mobility, which is often mitigated by being buoyed by water. Foot injuries are common in diabetics, as is the loss of sensation because of reduced blood flow in the feet. Because of this, diabetics sometimes don’t notice small injuries that can become serious and resist healing. Swimming may be a better aerobic choice than walking or jogging since it is gentler on feet and less likely to cause scrapes, blisters, or cuts. 

Stationary or Traditional Bicycling 

Riding a stationary bicycle means your loved one can pursue exercise regardless of the weather and doesn’t need to worry about falling, while traditional biking can help him or her maintain agility and balance. Biking in either form can be helpful for diabetics because it works the lower extremities. Diabetics tend to have trouble with their lower extremities due to reduced blood flow to those areas, so a form of exercise that gets blood pumping to feet and legs can be vital. Likewise, biking burns calories to help keep your loved one’s weight in check. Diabetics with a healthy weight are less likely to have other complications than those who are overweight.

Does your loved one need help with regular exercise that can help alleviate diabetes symptoms or prevent future complications? An hourly Chandler caregiver from Home Care Assistance can help. In addition to help with exercise, our caregivers are trained to assist seniors who face mobility challenges with a wide variety of daily tasks such as transportation, medication reminders, cleaning, and cooking. For more information, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at 480.448.6215 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.