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Sheri Colberg Part 4, The Most Important Physical Activity for Diabetics

In part 4 of this Exclusive Interview, Sheri Colberg talks with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed during the ADA meeting in San Diego, California about resistance — the exercise everyone should be doing — and its benefits.

Sheri Colberg, PhD, FACSM is Professor Emerita of Exercise Science at Old Dominion University in Virginia and a member of the Diabetes in Control Advisory Board.

Transcript of this video segment:

Steve Freed — So what is the most important type of physical activity that everyone with diabetes should be doing? Or is there one?

Sheri Colberg — In my opinion, probably the most important, besides doing a little bit of balance training, which is easy to add in, is resistance training for the sheer fact that as we are aging we are losing muscle. And the muscle fibers that we lose specifically are the ones that were not recruiting and those are the ones that allow us to have more power. They are the ones you use when you sprint or you jump or you do something that requires an intense amount of activity for a short period of time. They’re not the ones that you just use walking. So, you need to have those additional fibers to stay strong to be able to do your daily activities, but you also need those because they’re a great place to store carbohydrate. So, the analogy I always uses is thinking of your muscle mass as a gas tank and what you want to have is a gas tank where you store carbohydrates. You want it to be as large as possible, which means retaining your muscle mass and you want it to be half full all the time. The only way to get it half full is by exercising and using up the carbohydrates that are stored in muscle. So, everyone should start doing some type of resistance training and that could be simple stuff that you do at home. There are many activities now that you can do that you simply use your own body weight as the resistance. You can do wall push-ups. You can do wall sits and all sorts of things that don’t require a lot of extra equipment or going into a gym to be able to do them. It’s really a trendy thing now to use your own body weight as your resistance.

Steve Freed – So, let’s talk about resistance exercise for a second. I could take two bottles of Bud Light and raise them over my head 20 times. That’s resistance, but that’s not going to give us a major benefit. I was always under the impression that when it comes to resistance you want to fail. You want to reach a point where you fail or you just can’t do it anymore and that will improve over time. What are your thoughts about that?

Sheri Colberg — Yes and not entirely. So, the research indicates that doing the heavier lifting that you’re talking about, completely to fatigue, is going to get you the most in terms of strength gains and certainly in retaining muscle mass, and that is true. But let’s say you’re the average person and you’re doing absolutely nothing right now. So, isn’t doing even your 12 oz Bud curls better than doing nothing at all? I mean at least you…and you can do it 100 times and eventually we will get fatigued doing that, but that works on more as muscular endurance and not so much muscular strength, but you get the idea though. You have to start with somewhere. So what a lot of people will start with is hand weights or they’ll use full water bottles or soup cans or something in their hands to add little bit of resistance. You can also get the stretch band that are resistance bands that come in different tensions so you can build up from low tension to a higher tension. And, again, using your own body weight, especially if you’re overweight, that’s going to be a lot of resistance. I mean I want to see how long you could do a plank. Can you do a plank for 5 minutes? I don’t think I could actually. And you build up, the more you do that, the stronger you get and that is the exercise that ends up being to fatigue. Although you know if you want to have the greatest gains, probably you want to use heavier weights or heavier resistance, but that’s not necessarily going to be the starting place for a lot of people.

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