Why strength training is important for diabetics One of the first things that a newly diagnosed diabetic hears from his doctor is the necessity of adding cardio, or aerobic exercises. Diabetics are encouraged to walk, jog, dance or otherwise workout their cardiovascular system. Although there are great benefits to cardio, too many doctors completely ignore the benefits of strength training. When it comes to muscles, if you don't use them, you lose them. Having well functioning muscles can help the rest of the body perform better. We already know there is a link between weight training and bone density, but the fact is that muscles affect every system in the body, including the endocrine system. The body pulls glucose from the bloodstream to provide fuel for your body. Well-toned muscles require more fuel, which means that more glucose is pulled from the blood stream. Research is now showing us that increased strength training is just as important as aerobic exercise to better manage any chronic disease, including diabetes. In fact, when aerobic exercise is combined with weight training, the benefits have been shown to control blood sugar levels at the same rate as some diabetes medications. Benefits of strength training include: 1. Enhances insulin sensitivity 2. Better blood glucose control 3. Increases energy and quality of life 4. Builds bone quality and density 5. Improved blood cholesterol levels Adding weight training If you are one of those that believe adding weight training means you need to bulk up, then it's time to change your thinking. Weight training does build muscles, but doing weight training will not make you look like the Hulk. If you do weight training properly, you will have a toned and sleek look. If you're thinking of starting a weight training program, make sure to start slow and steady. Don't go into the gym and "work it until it hurts," because the fact is: when you build muscles, the real soreness may not show up until one or two days after the workout. If you're already hurting at the gym, you'll be in complete pain the next morning. Spend some time doing research to find the activities you want to start with. Although some of these activities do require gym equipment, many can be done at home with little or no additional expense or equipment. If you are able to afford a personal trainer, use one to help you set up a program appropriate for your age, weight and abilities. They also provide great encouragement on those days when you don't really feel like hitting the weights. Start with low weights, low intensity or light resistance bands at first. Do small amounts of reps. Work arms, legs, abs and back muscles, but it's OK to do targeted exercises (arms one day, legs another, etc) instead of mixing them all together. And most importantly – talk to your doctor. Weight training does affect blood sugar levels, so be prepared with snacks or extra medication just in case your blood sugar drops too low or suddenly spikes.