The Exercise Prescription: Resistance training with dumbbells, your body weight, resistance bands or gym machines + cardio
The Dose: Resistance training three times per week, plus 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week.
Exercise can improve your A1C levels, also known as your blood’s hemoglobin levels and a marker for diabetes. It can also assist in stabilizing blood glucose levels, which is vital for those living with diabetes or prediabetes. A daily workout may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym and it doesn’t have to be done all at once. “We see blood sugars normalize or stabilize post-exercise, so exercising throughout the day – 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there – can be beneficial,” says Hodson. To work bursts of light cardio into your day, try parking your car a few blocks away from your office. Taking the stairs and walking the dog count, too. Resistance training is also vital for those with diabetes. Studies show that an increase in muscle mass over time can have improved benefits on glycemic control, and it means that you’ll burn more calories when at rest. A good program could involve a circuit of squats, lunges, planks, push-ups and dumbbell exercises.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
The Exercise Prescription: Moderate to vigorous walking program
The Dose: 45 minutes of cardio or walking three times per week, plus three days of resistance training
Repeated studies have connected physical activity with reducing rates of dementia, improving cognition, increasing the size of the hippocampus and delaying the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A longitudinal study from the Ontario Brain Institute that examined 55 physical-activity studies and found that people over 65 who were physically active were 38 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who were inactive – this means that one in seven cases of Alzheimer’s could be prevented with a more active lifestyle. Exercise stimulates the brain’s ability to make connections and encourages new cell growth. A separate study of seniors found that tai chi, in particular, can improve balance and coordination and slow the degenerative effects of dementia.
The Exercise Prescription: Walking + resistance training
The Dose: Some form of exercise most days of the week (for 10 minutes or more) for a total of 150 minutes
a week, plus two-three days of resistance training
“Heart disease is the number one killer of women,” says Hodson. This means getting patients on a treadmill or cardio equipment, with longer warm-ups and cool-downs, and getting their blood pumping to improve circulation and blood flow, she says. If you’re not a fan of the treadmill, an evening stroll counts, too, as long as it’s a bit challenging. (If you’re not sure if you’re pushing yourself enough, use a Rate of Perceived Exertion scale, with 10 meaning you’re breathless or at the point of muscle exhaustion. For best results, aim for a seven or eight on the scale on most walks. And, of course, you don’t have to stop at walking. Running, indoor cycling and group fitness classes that challenge your heart rate are excellent forms of cardio training to work into your fitness regimen. To build strength, begin by incorporating light hand weights on the walk, working your way up to strength-training sessions twice a week. Improving muscle mass can also help battle heart disease.