If you have diabetes and want to use the best cardio machine for your condition, you’ll be surprised at just what this piece of equipment is.

“The best cardio equipment is the type of equipment that someone will actually use,” says Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian and diabetes educator at the Center for Endocrinology, Mercy Medical Center of Baltimore.

Massey adds that “it has to be something enjoyable to the person.”

Cardio Equipment Can’t Tell if the User is Diabetic
As a former personal trainer, I was inspired to write this article after I saw a thread in a forum asking which type of cardio machine is best for diabetics.

Diabetics need to do aerobic exercise. There is no research that favors one cardio mode over another just because someone has diabetes.

The only thing that matters is keeping the blood sugar under control and doing something that benefits cardiovascular health, and aerobic exercise is one way of accomplishing these goals.

“Some individuals may prefer to bike, where other individuals may prefer a treadmill or doing yoga DVDs,” says Massey.

My pet peeve is people holding onto treadmills. This does not mimic natural walking and promotes poor posture. Diabetes is no reason to improperly walk.
• The calorie readout, when you hold onto the machine, is significantly inflated.
• Holding on trains your body to use a walker, not to be more efficient with walking.
• Repetitive stress injuries may result in the hips and shoulders when you hold on.
• When you hold onto a treadmill, the core doesn’t do the work it’s supposed to do when walking.
• Holding onto a treadmill creates a false idea of achievement.

What about complications from diabetes?

“If the individual is dealing with diabetes complications like neuropathy, they may have difficulty with balance and certain types of exercise,” points out Massey.

“Speaking to a physical therapist, if you are dealing with diabetes-related complications that impact your exercise routine, can be extremely helpful.”

How much aerobic activity for diabetics?
“The recommended amount of physical activity for individuals with diabetes is about 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes, five days per week,” says Massey. This recommendation also applies to the general population and comes from the American Heart Association.

“I often recommend working towards increasing the duration of physical activity to 60 minutes, 5x/week for individuals trying to lose weight,” Massey says.

So the best type of cardio equipment for someone with diabetes is whatever equipment you’ll most likely stick to an exercise program with. Most full-scale gyms have the following:
• Treadmill
• Upright stationary bike
• Recumbent stationary bike
• Elliptical trainer
• Revolving staircase
• Rower

Larger gyms may have funkier pedaling machines, manual-powered treadmills and “stair steppers.”

Diabetics who have trouble adhering to any cardio machine may want to try an aerobics class, using the gym’s track if it has one or exercising outdoors.

Alison Massey has been working in the field of nutrition for more than 10 years helping individuals make sustainable changes to improve their health.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.