If you’re among the millions of people affected by diabetes, or who are at risk for developing it, staying physically active is a key way to help prevent or control it.
People who have or are at risk for diabetes often have higher-than-normal levels of glucose (blood sugar) in the blood, which can harm the body. Exercise helps regulate glucose, which your body needs for energy, while increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that helps your body better use the glucose it needs. Staying physically active can also help you lose weight as well as lower high blood pressure, a key risk factor for diabetes.
While genetics plays a large role in the risk for type 2 diabetes, being active and exercising regularly is important to help reduce your risk. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. Then follow these steps to get your body moving!
Move more, sit less. Here are a few ways keep your body in motion throughout the day.
- Park away from the door and walk briskly to your destination
- Before you start shopping, take a lap around the store or mall
- Get up to relay a message to a coworker in person rather than through email or messaging
- Walk around or march in place while talking on the phone, waiting in line, or cooking
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier to go for a walk outside
- Take a quick walk on your lunch break
- Go out for an after-dinner walks around the neighborhood
Strive for 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Walking is a great way to get started with exercise! Take it slow and don’t push yourself while you build up your time and distance. Try simply walking around the block, then adding another block, and so on.
Then, incorporate the following, alternating between them:
- Cardio (heart-pounding exercise) daily. Things like brisk walking, jogging, hiking, swimming, dancing, bike riding, or using the treadmill, elliptical or rowing machine can all improve your body’s use of insulin, helping to keep your blood sugar low over time.
- Strength/resistance training. Strength training builds muscle and burns calories, making it a great way to lose weight, while improving your body’s use of insulin and lowering glucose. You can choose to use hand weights, resistance bands or even filled water jugs, work with machine-based equipment, or perform exercises like push-ups, squats, planks or crunches to build strength. Start by doing two sessions per week.
- Add flexibility exercise like stretching or yoga poses to keep muscles limber.
Maximize your results and stay motivated.
- Balance your routine and alternate between exercises that pump your heart, build strength and promote flexibility.
- Find a workout buddy for support.
- Invest in fun workout clothes and a nice water bottle.
- Set a goal, mark it down on your calendar, and reward yourself for meeting it!
Remember to check with your healthcare practitioner to get the go-ahead before starting an exercise routine.