Exercising the whole body

Our body is made up of over 640 different muscles. Muscle tissue essentially forms the engine rooms of our body. It metabolises energy from the food we eat, to enable us to produce movement. Over 30% of our total body weight consists of skeletal muscle and it is here where the majority of our body’s glucose is stored or utilized.

With regular physical activity or exercise, we can improve the way in which our bodies store and use glucose from the blood, helping to reduce blood glucose levels in the short term and long term. Strength or Resistance training is particularly effective in improving our body’s ability to control blood glucose levels as it focuses on the muscle.

Resistance training is particularly effective in enabling our insulin to work better (improved insulin sensitivity), as well as contributing to improvements in body composition, namely an increase in muscle mass. Bigger muscles means we have more cupboard space to store glucose away from the blood.

Performing strength exercises such as lifting weights or using exercise bands as little as 2-3 times per week can be enough to improve the way in which our bodies control blood glucose levels.

With all of this in mind it makes sense to try and incorporate as many major muscle groups into your resistance training as possible to achieve the maximum benefit.

Here are some tips to help you maximise the benefits from your training:

  • Prioritise larger muscle groups over smaller ones – focus on exercises that incorporate the bigger muscles of the body first before moving to the smaller muscles groups. Exercises using the large muscles in the legs such as sit-to-stands or squats are a great place to start. Upper body exercises such as push-ups (or modified wall push-ups) and row variations (eg. Thera-band row) utilize the major muscle groups of the upper body.
  • Aim to include exercises that involve movement across multiple joints – this means more muscles are involved in the exercise. These exercises are also generally more functional and correlate closely with movements we perform day to day (eg. Getting out of a chair, picking an object off the floor). An exercise such as a step-up incorporates the muscles of the hip, thigh and calf. For an added challenge you can add a bicep curl between every repetition to get the upper body involved.
  • Aim to perform 8-10 exercises incorporating major muscle groups from the upper and lower body. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each exercise.

Exercise examples:

Sit-to-stand

  1. Start with feet shoulder width apart and arms crossed over chest or by side.
  2. Lean forward slightly whilst pushing through heels of feet to stand from chair.
  3. Sit back down to chair with controlled timing (approx. 2secs)
  4. Repeat 10-15 times.
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Thera-band row

  1. Can be performed seated or standing, start with band looped around pole or outstretched feet
  2. Grasp ends of band, sit up tall and pull band towards lower chest. Ensure you don’t lean too far backwards.
  3. Keep shoulders relaxed throughout movement, squeeze shoulder blades together slightly as you pull back
  4. Return band to starting position with controlled timing (approx. 2secs)
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.
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Wall push-up

  1. Stand facing wall with feet together, roughly one arms-length from the wall.
  2. Place hands on wall slightly wider that shoulder width apart and at shoulder height.
  3. Keep body straight, bend at elbows and move chest slowly towards wall in a push-up movement.
  4. Push through hands to return to starting position.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.
exercise3
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