Gliding Disk Workout

Bored with walking or not getting to exercise class as often as you'd like? Stay home and slide into our five simple, low-impact gliding disk exercises.

Glide Your Way Fit

For an effective low-impact workout, try gliding. This exercise program uses purple disks the size of dinner plates under your feet.

Gliding exercise benefits:

  • Workouts are fun and graceful without jumping or impact.
  • Gliding can deliver big results because the exercises engage your body's core muscles: the abdomen and back.
  • The moves improve balance, strength, and endurance.

Fitness trainer Mindy Mylrea developed gliding moves by using paper plates on the floor. The disks can be used for upper- and lower-body exercises, or as part of an aerobic fitness program.

Cammy Dennis, fitness director at On Top of the World, an active retirement community in Ocala, Florida, uses the disks in classes she teaches. Some students have diabetes and use the disks extensively. "It's safe, effective, and they love it because it's fun," Dennis says.

What to Know Before You Get Started

Check out these gliding tips before starting your exercises:

You can do it: But be sure to check with your doctor first, especially if you've had foot problems. Diabetes should not be a barrier to an active lifestyle -- you just have to watch yourself a little closer. Exercise physiologist Douglas Brooks, M.S., of Mammoth Lakes, California, reminds people with diabetes to monitor blood glucose levels, which can rise or fall during exercise. "If glucose is monitored and the intensity is comfortable, gliding should be safe for people with diabetes," he says.

Where to do it: This exercise program is extra special because you can do it at home. Gliding disks work best on carpet.

How to do it: Step onto both discs and place the balls of your feet in the centers, allowing your heels to hang off the back. "Where you step onto the disk depends on the size of your foot. But when you glide, your heel will come off the floor, and your weight will shift onto the ball of the foot," says gliding creator Mindy Mylrea. Gently press the foot in the direction you want to go.

Where to buy it: You can purchase a set for $10 at glidingdiscs.com or amazon.com. Instructional videos also are available.

Try the five easy and effective gliding exercises on the following pages.

Seated Leg Circles

Target: Warm-up for lower-leg muscles

A: Sit upright on the edge of a chair with knees bent and balls of feet on gliding disks.

B: Circle both legs in clockwise and counterclockwise motions. Focus on the range of motion through the ankle and knee joints.

Repeat 8-10 times.

Seated Hip Opener

Target: Inner and outer hip muscles

A: Sit upright on the edge of a chair with knees bent and balls of feet on gliding disks.

B: Open and close your legs. Focus on squeezing the hip muscles as you open the legs and on the inner thigh muscles as you close them.

Repeat 10-15 times.

Arm Slide

Target: Shoulder stability and core strength

A: Kneel on carpet or a mat, keeping knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Place hands on gliding disks.

B: Contract and engage the abdominal muscles as you press the left hand out 6-8 inches in front of your body in a smooth gliding motion.

Repeat 6-8 times on each arm.

Side Skate

Target: Hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteus maximus

A: Stand with both feet on gliding disks, knees slightly bent.

B: Press your right foot out to the side, then slowly return it to the center. If you need additional support, hold on to the back of a chair.

Repeat 10-12 times on each leg.

Reverse Lunge

Target: Core and leg muscles

A: Stand with both feet on gliding disks, knees slightly bent.

B: Slide one leg back and bend your front knee into a lunge. Stay upright with chest lifted and stomach in, and lower your body toward the floor. If you have trouble with balance, start with just one disk or hold on to the back of a chair for stability.

Repeat 10-12 times on each leg.

Exercise Checklist

A few commonsense action items ensure that regular activity helps rather than hurts you. The American Diabetes Association offers this exercise checklist:

  • Talk to your doctor about the right exercises for you.
  • Check your blood sugar before and after exercising.
  • Check your feet for blisters and sores before and after exercising.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks.
  • Warm up before and cool down after exercising.
  • Drink lots of fluids before, during, and after exercising.
  • Have a snack handy in case your blood sugar drops.

Irene Lewis-McCormick is a faculty member of the American Council on Exercise and a member of the Diabetic Living editorial advisory board.

Tired feet? Try this simple seated workout.

Diabetic Living Video

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