July 27, 2022

10 Exercises for Managing Diabetes for  Seniors

Know the Best Diabetes Exercises for Seniors 


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Home / Living with Diabetes / 10 Exercises for Managing Diabetes for  Seniors

Know the Best Diabetes Exercises for Seniors 

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes or have lived with it for years, diabetes management can be a real challenge – especially for senior citizens. About 33 percent of people aged 65 and older have some form of diabetes. Meanwhile, people in this age group are more likely to experience diabetes complications such as heart disease and kidney failure. 

At any age, exercise is a key part of diabetes management. If you’re searching for the best exercises for  seniors with diabetes, consider US MED’s top 10 recommendations. 

Seniors with diabetes 

If you have diabetes, there are certain topics you’ll need to understand no matter how old you are. Specifically, it’s a good idea to learn more about: 

Insulin production 

If you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks cells in your pancreas that handle insulin production. Type 2 diabetes works differently – the pancreas still creates insulin, but other cells in the body become more resistant to it. However, the pancreas can overwork itself while trying to meet the increased insulin demands associated with type 2 diabetes, eventually “burning out” as a result. 

Blood glucose levels 

When your body cannot make enough insulin or becomes resistant to insulin, glucose starts building up in your bloodstream. Since glucose tolerance generally decreases with age, it’s easy to see why type 2 diabetes is prevalent among senior citizens. 

A1C 

You’ll need an A1C blood test to get a formal diabetes diagnosis. That test, which looks at your average blood glucose levels throughout the previous two or three months, can also help determine the effectiveness of your diabetes treatment plan. 

Cholesterol 

People with diabetes have an increased risk of high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. On top of that, this disease can reduce your HDL (“good”) cholesterol while boosting your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. 

Mental health 

Finally, the stress that comes with managing diabetes can create problems for your mental well-being. Along with a condition known as “diabetes distress,” type 1 and 2 diabetes come with above-average risks for depression and anxiety. 

How does exercise improve diabetes management? 

While you should be aware of these challenges as a senior with diabetes, it’s still possible for you to manage diabetes and live a fulfilling life if you fall into this age group. A highly effective way to do this is getting regular physical activity. Studies show that exercise can alter your blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity. 

Along with these benefits, exercises for  seniors with diabetes can help you: 

  • Reduce your cholesterol 
  • Boost your flexibility and balance 
  • Enhance insulin production 
  • Assist in weight loss 
  • Lighten your mood 

Woman and Man Riding Bike

While you’re preparing to participate in the exercises listed below, be sure to check in with your healthcare team and have a strategy for low blood sugar. Since exercise can reduce blood glucose, be ready to check your blood sugar every 15 minutes. If your glucose levels are below your target range, take steps to treat them before continuing. 

10 best exercises for seniors managing diabetes 

  1. Swimming

Finding diabetes exercises for seniors can be a challenge. At this age, you may have to balance your need for physical activity with problems such as arthritis and balance issues. If that’s the case for you, give swimming (or even walking in water) a try! Immersion in water can ease joint pain, and these exercises could help improve your balance and lower your blood pressure. 

  1. Yoga

Yoga is another low-impact exercise that can have surprisingly positive results for seniors with diabetes. Start by learning a few basic poses before moving up to more challenging ones. In the process, you’ll benefit from more even glucose levels while burning calories and boosting your state of mind. 

  1. Light strength training

Being over the age of 65 doesn’t mean you can’t participate in weight training. However, you’ll need to make some accommodations, which means using light weights and taking things one step at a time. These exercises are great for building muscle; while doing so, you’ll also cut down on blood glucose. 

  1. Cycling

A short bike ride is a great way to get some senior-friendly exercise into your daily schedule without putting too much pressure on your joints. As an added bonus, you’ll have an opportunity to spend time in nature – which could help reduce your overall stress levels. 

  1. Stationary bike riding

On the other hand, nature can sometimes be too hot, cold, or wet to make outdoor exercise feasible. When that’s the case, try using a stationary bike instead! After all, you’ll still get the physical health benefits of cycling. 

  1. Going for a walk

If you’re feeling up to it, few exercises beat a brisk walk when it comes to diabetes management. Walking for at least 30 minutes will build muscle strength and help your cardiovascular system work effectively – all without putting excess strain on your joints. Best of all, you can walk along with friends and go to different places each day to stay motivated! 

  1. Dancing

Who said managing diabetes can’t be fun? Dancing to fast-paced music you enjoy shares many benefits with walking while making it easy to really enjoy physical activity. If you can’t get up, you can move your hands and feet to the rhythm while sitting down. 

  1. Resistance bands

Resistance bands are ideal for improving your range and strengthening your joints and muscles when combined with other forms of physical activity. On top of that, these bands come in various strength levels, allowing you to pick one that meets your needs. 

  1. Posture exercises

Though they aren’t the most strenuous exercises, posture exercises are essential in diabetes management. That’s because they can help improve your blood circulation while staying gentle enough for senior citizens. Some helpful posture exercises include arm stretches, leg stretches, and rowing. 

  1. Chair exercise

Chair dancing can help you get physically active, but this isn’t the only form of chair-based exercise to choose from. Other chair exercises target the neck, knees, and many more body parts. 

Where to get your diabetes supplies 

With an exercise plan designed with their physical and mental needs in mind, people can successfully manage diabetes regardless of their age. Of course, this isn’t the only step you’ll need to take to get your diabetes under control. Testing your glucose levels and administering insulin when needed are equally important. 

US MED is America’s best diabetes supply company. You’ll benefit from our direct insurance billing and free priority shipping when you buy continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, and diabetes testing supplies from us. If you’re planning to purchase diabetes supplies soon, take a look at our online shop first! 

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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