To get your heart pumping, why not utilize an everyday tool? Climbing stairs is a simple exercise for people with diabetes, and the best part is that you can do it almost anywhere. After a few repetitions, mix in some of our simple exercises designed to target and stretch your muscles. Ready, set, hit the stairs!
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Walk up the stairs one at a time, pumping your arms by your sides. To pick up the pace, ascend at a quick but careful clip. Try an interval approach, taking 10 steps at a walking pace, then jogging the next five.
Once you've walked the stairs for 3–5 minutes, do one of the following strength exercises, then walk for 3–5 minutes, try another strength move and repeat until you've done them all.
You may have to skip a step to do this one, depending on the height of the stair risers and your leg length.
Step A: Simply walk up the steps. As you begin to bring the leg behind you forward, extend the knee and squeeze the gluteal muscles.
Step B: Hold for just a second, then step up to the next step that is most comfortable for your stride length, flexing your front knee and powering off that leg to lift the opposite leg the same way. Continue for a total of 10 steps.
This move doubles as a stretch for your feet and ankles.
Step A: Stand on the edge of one step with the backs of your heels hanging off the step.
Step B: Using the handrail for support, lift both heels up as high as you can, then drop them back down. Try doing this 10 times in a row at a controlled pace.
Step A: Sit on a step and extend your legs so you can place your feet with flexed knees on a stair below you. (How many steps below you will depend on your height.) Place your hands on the same step you are sitting on, about shoulder-width apart.
Step B: Lift your hips up and forward so you are in a flexed-knee and -hip position. Bend your elbows and lower your hips a few inches in a dip, moving from the elbow joint, not the shoulders. Lift up and squeeze your gluteal muscles. Do 10 repetitions.
Tip: Keep your fingers pointed in the same direction as your toes.
This exercise challenges the legs and hips as well as your balance.
Step A: Begin by standing with your side to the stairs, feet together in an upright posture.
Step B: Step the closest leg up onto the step and squat, then follow with the other leg up onto the step and stand upright again. In other words, squat as you step up. Try this facing one direction for 10 steps, then face the other direction for another 10 steps so you work both legs equally.
Rest your forearms on the landing and place your feet on a lower step so your body is in a straight plank position. Relax your shoulders by lengthening your neck; draw in your abdominal wall and keep your legs straight. Hold this position for about 30 seconds. Try this three times with 10 seconds of rest in between. For more of a challenge, try the plank pose with your hands placed on the ground directly under your shoulders.
Tip: Keep your elbows directly below your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
Because climbing stairs requires significant gluteal muscle strength, you'll want to stretch those muscles when you are done. This exercise is also great for building balance and core stability.
Stand with your back against a wall. Hold onto the handrail or place your hands against the wall for balance. Lower your hips as if sitting in a chair, then cross the opposite leg over your thigh, just above the knee. Try keeping your back and head upright. Hold this stretch for 6–10 seconds, then switch to the other leg. Try to do this three times on each leg.