Is Yoga the Ultimate Exercise for People with Diabetes?

by Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned health writer

Hot off the press! New evidence suggests that yoga may help manage diabetes and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals. In this short article, we review the benefits of yoga for diabetics. Namaste!

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice that started in ancient India. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that harmonizes the body, mind and emotions. It involves breathwork, body poses, and movements known as asanas.

There are many different styles of yoga. Some focus more on controlled breathing, relaxation, and meditation, while others are more active yoga flows that build strength and get your heart rate up. For example, yin yoga is very relaxing and restorative, vinyasa is more intense, and hatha is somewhere in between.

Why Yoga Is the Ultimate Exercise for People with Diabetes?

Symptoms like neuropathy can make exercise painful and unpleasant.

Diabetics are less likely to exercise because of:

  • Limited joint mobility
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Being overweight
  • Physical unfitness
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Diabetic foot problems

Yoga is the perfect solution if you’re looking for something that’s easy on the joints and won’t leave you sore afterwards. Plus, it has all the soothing mental health benefits of meditation. When it comes down to it, yoga is a one-stop-shop for your body, mind and soul.

A Quick Overview of Yoga and Diabetes

Health experts believe that yoga can play a key role in helping diabetics improve their symptoms and protect against further complications like heart disease.

It’s no secret that exercise is an important part of preventing and managing diabetes. It can improve insulin sensitivity, regulate blood sugar levels, and help you lose weight. Brisk walks are a great place to start, strength training is good too, but yoga is the ultimate exercise for people with diabetes.

Yoga packs all the benefits of exercise, breathwork and meditation into one workout. At the same time, it lubricates the joints, improves posture, and reduces the risk of injury. More and more people with diabetes are discovering the power of yoga to improve their quality of life and get their symptoms under control.

Health Benefits of Yoga & Diabetes

Yoga is useful for managing diabetes because it improves the nervous, endocrine, muscular, and immune systems all at once. The research on yoga and diabetes is truly amazing.

Here’s what researchers have found:

  • Dietary management and mindful eating: Yoga helps control eating patterns by strengthening the mind-body connection and improving impulse control. Mindful eating in diabetes has been shown to improve weight loss and glycemic control.
  • Improves insulin sensitivity: Yoga postures can improve insulin secretion by increasing blood flow to the muscles and improving glucose uptake. Yoga therapy also increases the number of insulin receptors in the body and reduces insulin swings.
  • Balances hormones and improves blood sugar control: By reducing stress hormone production, yoga balances hormones and improves glycemic control.
  • Restores pancreatic cells: Yoga postures stretch the pancreas, promote relaxation, and stimulate insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
  • Reduces inflammation and improves immunity: Yoga therapy strengthens the immune system by reducing the body’s inflammatory response.
  • Strengthens and grows the muscles: Yoga increases glucose absorption by growing more muscle cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream.
  • Promotes weight loss: Exercising with yoga improves weight loss and protects against risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Improves mental health: Yoga increases happy hormones and neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and GABA.

Best of all, yoga is a cost-effective treatment option because all you need is a yoga mat and an open floor.

Precautions for Diabetic Yogis

Before starting yoga classes, consult your doctor to make sure that it won’t interfere with any ongoing treatments.

It’s a good idea to learn from an experienced yoga instructor when you’re first starting out. They will make sure you’re doing the poses correctly and safely. Some types of yoga are strenuous and not very beginner friendly. Hot or Bikram yoga, for example, is not recommended for individuals with severe diabetes or heart disease.

Yoga poses should be practiced slowly and without any jerky, sudden movements. It’s always okay to lay on your back in yoga class whenever you feel like you need a break (it’s called savasana). Don’t worry, no one will look at you funny – it’s totally normal to take a breather.

Start Your New Yoga Practice Today!

Are you ready to start your new yoga practice?!

Most types of yoga are gentle and perfectly safe for diabetics. Some medical centers and local community centers even offer free classes to the public. If you don’t have access to a yoga class, you can always find free videos on YouTube, just make sure to proceed with caution until you get a feel for it and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

The results are in… and research shows that yoga is incredibly beneficial for diabetics. It’s a safe, gentle, therapeutic form of exercise that doesn’t require any fancy equipment or a gym membership. So, get your yoga on already!

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