A Relaxing Exercise That Can Help Improve Blood Sugar
I heard an interesting statistic the other day.
I think it’ll shock many of you, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it were true.
This statistic claims that 1 in 3 Americans is struggling with diabetes.
The vast majority of those struggling with the disease are struggling with Type II diabetes.
That’s 100 million Americans fighting this disease.
Sadly, millions of these people have no idea they’re dealing with diabetes.
For them, life is going on as usual. They’re not associating the health problems they’re experiencing with the elephant in the room.
Now when you talk to people about Type II diabetes, even the people who have it and aren’t aware that they have it, know one of the best ways to fight this disease is via exercise.
The problem is that many of these people don’t want to work out to fight the disease.
And one of the main reasons is because working out is HARD!
This is especially true of the older crowd. Every aching joint and sore muscle incurred while working out makes it very difficult to begin an exercise routine.
Hard to blame anyone who doesn’t want to work out because of the resulting pain.
Which is why I’m happy to report, new research supports doing yoga to help keep blood sugar stable.
Yup, good old relaxing yoga. (A bit more on the relaxing part in a moment.)
Numerous studies show yoga supports certain elements of health that directly correspond to improvements in diabetes symptoms.
For instance, a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology yoga has direct effects on the brain that help relieve stress.
The reason this matters is because we know high stress can cause your cortisol levels to stay elevated past the point where it’s healthy. And these elevated cortisol levels eventually wreak havoc on your body’s ability to utilize insulin correctly, creating insulin resistance.
Another study indicated yoga might help improve fasting blood glucose levels, as well as helping reduce total BMI, two factors known to contribute to better blood sugar management.
As Diabetes Self Management wrote regarding the study:
"Among the 60 people who took yoga classes several times a week, average body-mass index declined from 25.9 to 25.4. (Body-mass index, or BMI, is a measure of a person’s weight in relation to his height.) Additionally, chemicals associated with oxidative stress, or an imbalance in the number of damaging free radicals in the body, decreased by an average of 20% in the group practicing yoga.
Whether this decrease might lower the risk of diabetes complications such as nerve damage and heart and kidney disease requires further exploration in future studies, the researchers note. Lastly, the blood glucose levels of the people in the yoga group held steady, while the levels of those in the control group rose. The researchers did not find a difference in factors such as waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, or blood pressure between the two groups."
Another way yoga helps people maintain blood sugar levels has to do with “mindfulness.”
Mindfulness as yogis describe it, is nuanced at best. But the easiest way to break it down is to say mindfulness is “living and being in the moment.”
And the reason it’s important is because people who do yoga are encouraged to be mindful of the moment.
And the reason mindfulness matters to people with blood sugar fluctuations?
Mindfulness actually helps improve glucose levels according to a study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.
We don’t know how it works… but studies like this one indicate it certainly does.
And one of the final ways yoga works to support blood sugar is because it’s actually a workout.
Most people think yoga is little more than stretching and relaxing. Turns out, yoga can actually engage your body’s skeletal and muscular systems in ways that actually count as exercise.
I think yoga’s great.
I know some people think it’s Eastern religion bundled up into a stretching routine.
I don’t think that’s true, as there are completely secular, and even Christian, yoga programs out there.
At the end of the day, yoga is really just a great way to stay in shape and get healthier. Nothing wrong with that.