Did you know that 30 minutes of regular exercise can provide immediate long-term health benefits? Physical activity or exercise prevents numerous health problems, builds strength, boosts energy, and alleviates stress. It can also help you keep a healthy body weight and curb your appetite.
Each form of exercise has unique benefits and targets different parts of the body. However, one particular exercise is gaining attention for its physical and mental benefits: yoga.
Yoga has been a centuries-long practice for fitness enthusiasts aiming to improve their overall quality of life and well-being. Yoga combines proper postures, breathing techniques, and deep meditation for holistic health. It enhances nerve functions, lowers blood pressure, and reduces blood sugar levels. These are some reasons why diabetes patients are gradually turning to yoga for relief.
Yoga and Diabetes
Yoga is one of the promising and cost-effective options for managing and preventing diabetes. Data from numerous studies suggest that yoga, together with other mind-and-body therapies, can alleviate stress-related hyperglycemia and induce positive effects on blood glucose control.
It is crucial to have good stress management when controlling diabetes. The body’s blood sugar levels rise during stressful situations, increasing the chances of serious complications like heart disease.
Yoga—together with controlled breathing techniques, proper body posture, deep meditation, and other mindfulness-based programs—trains participants to have a relaxed response. These activities regulate the body’s cortisol and other stress hormones that elevate blood pressure and blood glucose levels. If left unchecked, these risk factors can lead to type 2 diabetes.
How does yoga prevent diabetes from worsening?
- Rejuvenates pancreatic cells
Asanas—yoga postures for diabetes—alternate between contracting and relaxing specific parts of the abdomen. By stimulating the pancreas and increasing blood and oxygen supply, the pancreatic cells receive nutrients and fresh blood flow that rejuvenate them to improve insulin production
- Exercises the muscles
Yogic exercises reduce blood sugar levels and alleviate hypoglycemia, one of the main symptoms of diabetes. Aside from that, yogic exercises can also lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Promotes weight loss
Regular yoga exercise can reduce weight and improve weight control. Healthy weight loss is necessary to prevent type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease while managing diabetes.
- Encourages proper function of endocrine glands
Meditation included in most yoga sessions can stabilize the endocrine system by relaxing the sympathetic nervous system so that it can control energy boost and, consequently, blood glucose.
- Improves mental attitude
Yoga’s benefits on diabetes go beyond the physical. It helps you focus your mind and develop suitable mental approaches to diabetes. By calming the mind and the awareness integrating with the mind and body, yoga can relieve the stress that comes with diabetic symptoms.
For instance, stress can cause a diabetic patient to experience high blood pressure and high cholesterol, compelling them to “emotional eating,” which can lead to obesity. All these symptoms can make diabetes worse, so one has to develop healthy habits to control diabetes and prevent the condition from worsening.
Helpful Yoga Poses
Certain yoga poses can help lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels while improving overall circulation in the body. Be careful not to suddenly move in and out of poses, as it could make your blood pressure drop and make you dizzy.
1. Legs up the wall
This restorative pose targets the hamstrings, pelvic muscles, lower back, front torso, and back of the neck. It allows for relaxation and lowers stress levels, which helps lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This can also relieve headaches, increase circulation, and boost your energy.
2. Reclining bound angle
This pose targets the adductors, groin muscles, pelvic muscles, and psoas. It can help calm your nervous system, reduce stress levels, and stimulate the abdominal organs, bladder, and kidneys.
3. Seated forward bend
This therapeutic forward bend works the pelvic muscles, erector spinae, gluteus maximus, and gastrocnemius. It also lowers blood pressure, promotes weight loss, and relieves anxiety, headache, and fatigue.
4. Supported shoulder stand
This inversion targets the rectus abdominis, trapezius, rotator cuff, and quadriceps, as well as helps with circulation and stimulates the thyroid gland.
This is another inversion that works the rotator cuff, hamstrings, trapezius, and spinal extensors. It stimulates the thyroid gland, increases circulation, and reduces stress.
Keeping diabetes at bay also requires other practices aside from just doing yoga. These are some of the steps you can take together with proper exercise.
1. Lose extra weight. Aiming for a healthy weight helps control your blood sugars. Seek the help of a doctor, dietitian, and fitness trainer if you want a comprehensive fitness plan that will work for you.
2. Track your carbohydrates. How many carbs do you take, and how often do you eat? Managing your carbs intake keeps your blood sugar under control. Eat foods with high fiber content, like green vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains.
3. Check your blood sugar level. Check this at least twice a day and assess if it is within the range advised by your doctor. Write your progress and note how certain foods and activities impact your blood sugar.
4. Get A1C blood tests. This test helps determine your average blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. People with type 2 diabetes should generally have an A1C lower than 7%. Ask your doctor for your A1C blood tests.
5. Get enough sleep. Sleeping less makes you eat more and put on weight. People with diabetes who get sufficient sleep develop healthier eating habits and improve blood sugar levels.
Doing yoga regularly can improve your overall well-being and help in maintaining diabetes. Make sure to consult a doctor before pushing through with this exercise, as there may be potential risks in your lifestyle that make yoga unsuitable.
Besides yoga, proper diet, enough sleep, and checking on yourself, the small but impactful things you do can help manage diabetes. Lastly, arm yourself with facts, and do not rely on the diabetes myths you have heard or read from unreliable sources. Knowing the facts can help you decide the right approach to managing the disease.