If you have diabetes, which affects over 29 million Americans and can lead to serious complications including stroke, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease, exercise is a powerful means of prevention. Obviously working out regularly is ideal, but if that’s not feasible, not all is lost. A new study out of British Columbia shows that just one strength-training session delivers measurable benefits for people with Type 2 diabetes. “In our study, a single set of lightweight leg exercises was able to improve blood vessel function,” says Jonathan Little, senior author of the study and Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. “The arteries were better able to dilate after exercise.”
The study examined three groups: people with Type 2 diabetes, healthy non-exercisers, and healthy regular exercisers. All were asked to perform a 20-minute exercise routine, which included a warm-up and seven one-minute, high-intensity moves with a one-minute rest between each interval. “The positive effects persisted for two hours, showing that there were immediate benefits to the cardiovascular system from doing a single weight workout,” Little says.
Experts believe that fast-paced high-interval training workouts (HIIT), which have been getting super popular, can improve our blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and cholesterol levels, all while burning fat and toning muscle. “Kettlebells and your own body weight are amazing tools,” says Max Zeumer, New York Health & Racquet Club Personal Training Manager. “They’re easy to use and provide an array of exercise options.”
Here is a quick lower body workout that you can adapt to your training level by upgrading weights as you progress. As with any exercise program, check with your doc first to make sure this workout is right for you.
- Warm-up: Start with glute bridges and side-lying leg raises. Do 12 to 15 reps—that’s one set.
- Workout: Start with kettlebell goblet squats, then transition to a set of planks for 15 seconds to a minute. Remember to engage your core to improve your lower body toning. (For a challenge, try these plank exercises, which will completely transform your abs.)
- Next, try kettlebell push presses. Follow with kettlebell deadlifts. Aim for 8 to 12 reps, with 1- to 2-minute rests in between.
As you begin to adapt to these exercises without any issues, you can add a set to the exercise, maxing out at three sets, and gradually increasing weight to progress.
If you’re really focusing on improving blood flow, add in kettlebell swings as you advance. Add one minute to each exercise. Don’t forget to take your time watch your form.