There’s no doubt that regular exercise is beneficial for people managing diabetes. At the most basic level, exercise increases insulin sensitivity, research shows, which affects weight and blood sugar levels.
Why Exercise Is Important for Type 2 Diabetes Management
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas, and your body needs it to deposit glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy, into your cells, Exercise helps train the body to use insulin better long term.
Exercising can be as simple as taking a walk — the trick is continuing to take those steps regularly to help you manage type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity can help boost your weight loss efforts, and even a small amount of weight loss — just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight — can improve your A1C. Regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which helps lower your risk of heart disease.
How Much Exercise Do People With Diabetes Need?
Most adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes need at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every week, spread over a period of at least three days, “with no more than two consecutive days of inactivity.”
If you’re physically fit and engage in high-intensity or interval trainings, you only need 75 minutes per week.
It’s also important to incorporate resistance training two to three days a week, with at least one day in between workouts. You should also avoid prolonged sitting by getting up and moving or stretching for a couple of minutes every half-hour.
People with type 2 diabetes who incorporated both aerobic and strength-training exercises into their routine experienced improved blood sugar control after just 12 weeks. Participants also reported increased energy levels and improved self-esteem.
How to Stick With Your Exercise Plan
Knowing the many benefits of exercise doesn’t always make it easy to keep up with your workout plan. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, try these seven tips to maintain your momentum and make exercise a permanent part of your diabetes management routine:
1. Take Baby Steps When Beginning an Exercise Routine
2. Choose a Physical Activity You Enjoy Doing
3. Use the Buddy System to Increase Accountability
4. Reward Yourself With Healthy Treats for Breaking a Sweat
5. Formally Schedule Your Sweat Sessions
6. Prep for Your Workouts a Day in Advance
7. Check Your Blood Sugar Before and After Exercise
One Last Thing on Starting an Exercise Routine for Managing Diabetes
Getting into a regular exercise routine takes patience and determination, but don’t give up. When you start to see results of exercising regularly, you won’t want to stop — and that’s the greatest motivation of all.