When you think of type 2 diabetes, you might imagine diet restrictions and insulin injections, but exercise is a major part of managing diabetes. Endocrine Web explains that by staying fit, you can help keep blood glucose levels in a proper range, because exercising sends glucose to your muscles, in turn taking some of the glucose out of your blood and pushing levels down.
People with type 2 diabetes don't produce enough insulin, or their body isn't using insulin properly, so in combination with a proper diet, your doctor will prescribe exercise to help control your diabetes. But exercise also helps ward off long-term complications of type 2 diabetes, such as blocked arteries in the heart and high cholesterol.
Type 2 diabetes exercise tips
Health has compiled a great list of tips and tricks for people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The starter list here will help you jump-start your exercise routine and motivate you to get started.
1. Do short, brief workouts. Health's George Griffing, MD, says that so long as you're getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, you can spread your workouts throughout the day. For example, try working out for 15 minutes before work and 15 minutes after.
2. Set reasonable goals. Exercise is imperative for your health, especially when you're managing diabetes. But if you're going to make the right changes in your life, you need to set your goals accordingly. Don't overwhelm yourself, and set goals you know you can hit. For example, tell yourself you'll speed-walk every other day and do weight training in between.
3. Focus on being active all day long. That means climbing the stairs or walking — adding a little extra effort daily can make a difference.
4. Get an exercise "prescription." This can be from your doctor or even a personal trainer whom you hire to help you get started. Sometimes starting to exercise can be daunting, so having someone tell you how to start, how you should be progressing and what exercises will be good for you given any current medical conditions will help you start out on the right foot.
5. Set visual cues. We all get busy, but by setting visual cues around your home — like leaving athletic shoes hanging on the door or a motivating note on the fridge — you remind yourself to get out and be active.
Great exercises to get you started
- Weight training. Everyday Health explains that muscles help burn glucose, so building muscle mass helps keep your blood sugar levels in check. You don't need to weight-train every day; do it two or three times a week to give your muscles a break on days in between.
- Yoga. This kind of workout helps burn fat, fight insulin resistance and even improve nerve function. Everyday Health says that yoga also helps reduce stress — and stress can elevate blood sugar levels.
- Indoor biking. This is a great form of cardio exercise that you can do every day, no matter the weather outside. Everyday Health notes that it gets your heart pumping stronger and helps your lungs function better.