This article was first posted on May 15, 2013.
It’s no surprise that when you have diabetes keeping physically active is a crucial part in managing the disease.
But it’s hard to stay motivated and committed to your fitness goals when you’re doing the same exercise routine day in and day out. With May being National Exercise Month, there’s no better time to explore or experiment other fitness routines to help control and manage your diabetes.
Muscle takes up glucose better than fat, so the more muscle you have, the better your blood glucose numbers should register, whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Pilates is all about body weight and resistance training, which increases muscle mass.
Another benefit-the greater the muscle mass the more calories burned at rest, equating to greater amounts of weight loss.
Pilates specifically works the deep muscles of your body’s core—the abdomen, obliques, lower back, inner and outer thigh, and buttocks. It’s a system of exercises designed to develop strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, coordination, balance, and good posture.
This core strength focus of Pilates could also reduce the amount of abdominal fat mass—the more fat you have at your waist line and tucked around your organs, the higher your risk for type 2 diabetes.
There are six principles in Pilates-concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow, and precision-that train the body to move with limited stress on your joints. Pilates focuses on slow, gentle movements to engage deep core muscles often overlooked in workouts that use large movements, heavier weights, and machines.
There are two types of Pilates: floor-based and machine-based. Floor-based Pilates takes place on a mat on the ground, using elastic bands, balls, bricks, and exercise rings to build balance and strengthen the core. In machine-based Pilates, you use two machines, the Cadillac and the Reformer, which are a system of springs and pulleys that add weight and resistance.
When the core is strong, alignment and posture improve, relieving stress on the joints and muscles. This is one of the reasons Pilates is often recommended for back pain as well.
Pilates mat exercise is generally done lying down, sitting, and sometimes kneeling. These positions make Pilates exercise well-suited for people who may not be comfortable standing for long periods, or in exercise systems that require a lot of shifts of weight.
In addition, Pilates exercise can be modified for different levels and physical needs. Therefore, people of all sizes, shapes, and ages can do Pilates. An experienced instructor will be able to adjust mat exercises to help you gradually improve strength and endurance, working your way into Pilates exercises.
In both types of Pilates, exercises are performed in sets and repetitions. While you do hold some moves for a certain number of breaths, as with yoga, in Pilates exercise you remain in regular motion for the majority of the class.
Be sure to check with your doctor before starting Pilates or any exercise routine. If you do decide to take a Pilates class it’s essential to let your instructor know you have diabetes. There also may be some exercises, like rolling or going upside down, that are not appropriate for those with high blood pressure, diabetic retinopathy, musculoskeletal issues or other medical problems. Be sure also to check your blood glucose before and after the session and maintain blood glucose at safe level.