Best 5 Exercises for Diabetes in the Elderly

Diabetes is a medical condition affecting many people in today’s population. It is a significantly growing health concern in the UK and is linked with being overweight. The mechanism of diabetes is related to the body’s reduced ability to produce or use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, if it is not working optimally it can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney diseases and poor blood supply. It is important to manage diabetes well, most people will be on medication prescribed by their doctor. However, you can also manage diabetes through regular exercise.

Contrary to popular belief, diabetes is a diagnosed by a number on a blood test. That’s the amount of sugar in your blood over the last month. Get that number down, and you can actually reverse diabetes and normalise your body. How do you do that? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Exercise
  2. Eat less
  3. Significantly reduce carbohydrates and sugars

Exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels, when you exercise your muscles use the sugar in your blood to produce movements which reduces the overall sugar levels in the bloodstream. This effect can last many hours after you have stopped exercising. Therefore, making it an effective way to control your diabetes. Exercise can also help with weight loss, improve circulation, reduce the risk of heart disease and reduce blood pressure. It is also good for your mental health as it can help with the release of dopamine (happy hormone). Exercise also helps “burn fat” to use for energy.

Eat less. Seriously. Just have smaller meals. Stop padding them out with potatoes, rice, pasta and bread. Eat less. When you eat less, you’ll reduce weight.

Eat less carbs. Carbs are fine for the body in small amounts but too much, and excess fat will be formed around the liver and pancreas. Excess fat around the pancreas causes a reduction in insulin. Too much fat around the liver (often known as non-alcohol induced fatty liver disease) causes too much glycogen to be released into the blood. Bad for blood sugar levels. Reduce carbs!

Our team at Surrey Physio can help with diabetes and its complications, some patients may have nerve pain/symptoms in their legs, have poor circulation in their lower body or have muscular pain. These are known as musculoskeletal and neurological are common in diabetes and if left alone can worsen over time. We can provide education and advice on preventing further complications such as foot ulcers, neuropathy and poor circulation.

Furthermore, physiotherapy can help manage pain, improve your movement and reduce the risk of falling. The link between diabetes and a high fall risk is established, this is because diabetes can affect your sight, sensation in your feet and reduce your muscle strength. Physiotherapy can improve your strength, balance and coordination, which can help reduce your risk of falls and injuries.

Also, some of our Surrey Physio physiotherapists and osteopaths have excellent levels of nutrition and can guide you on nutrition and diet.

At Surrey Physio we offer a range of services to help you meet your goals. If you are finding it difficult controlling your diabetes/symptoms we can guide you on the best management program. In the mean time we have developed 5 exercises we think could be useful in controlling your diabetes.

Half Wall Squat

Stand upright, with your back resting against a wall and your feet slightly away from the side of the wall. Open your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and bend your knees to the 1/2 squat position. Make sure you keep the middle of your knee-cap in line with the middle toes of your foot. Return to the start position. Repeat the movement ten times, three times per day if possible.

Leg Swing

Stand upright and hold onto a wall or table for support. Swing you leg in front of you and behind you gently. Control the pace and length of the swing. Repeat the exercise for ten to fifteen reps forwards and backwards. Perform this daily.

Marching on the Spot Unsupported with Weights

Place an ankle weight around each ankle. Stand upright with good posture, next to a wall or table just in case you need support. March on the spot. Keep your knees up, and move your opposite arm with the opposite knee. Try to stay in exactly the same spot throughout your march. This exercise is good for knee mobility, endurance, balance and co-ordination. Perform this exercise for two minutes if possible. If you don’t have weights, just use your body weight.

Sit to Stand - One Hand

Sit upright with good posture. Place one arm across your chest, and one hand on the side of the chair. Gently lean forwards and use as much leg strength as you can to push yourself up. Use your one arm to assist. Once upright, stand up straight. When you feel comfortable, slowly sit back down, guiding yourself by using your one arm. Try to keep a straight spine during the sitting rather than let your back round forwards too much. This exercise will strengthen your legs and core. If using one hand is too tough, use two hands to push yourself up. If using two or one hand is too easy, then use no hands. Repeat ten times, twice per day.

Walking Exercise

Stand upright with good posture. Maintaining this posture, walk forwards at a slow and steady pace. Concentrate on a heel-strike to toe-off action. Make sure you have checked your surroundings before walking to ensure there are no obstacles or difficult terrains to navigate. Make sure you keep your head up, with your eyes on the horizon line if possible. If the weather is bad, the ground icy or slippery, take extra care. Use a walking aid if required. Walking is an important leg strengthening exercise, and essential for mobility to the joints. Walk for 20-minutes per day if possible.

Give these exercises a try!! Remember consistent exercises is an important component of managing diabetes. It helps to reduce blood sugar levels, risk of complications, reduce weight loss and improve overall fitness. Working with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or osteopath can be a safe way of approaching exercise. Surrey Physio is dedicated to improving our patient’s quality of life and helping help to achieve their goals. Please see us in clinic if you think we could help.

(Therapists, osteopaths, sports therapists, chiropractors reading this page… if you love the exercises here, then please check out the amazing exercise prescription tool You can sign up for a free 14-day trial, and it’s affordable to buy, with pricing starting from £11.23 per month.

If you are a patient, in pain, or elite performance, please call us to discuss your case further. Surrey Physio have an amazing team of therapists to help you recover from pain, but also to achieve top performance. Call us on 0208 685 6930 or click the link at the top to book online.)