Staying active is one of the most important parts of managing your diabetes, in addition to watching what you eat, taking your medicines, and managing your stress.
Staying active allows your cells to better use the insulin in your body and to remove glucose through a different mechanism, keeping your blood glucose down overall and improving your A1C.
Some benefits of regular exercise are:
- Lower cholesterol,
- Lower blood pressure,
- Stronger heart, muscles, and bones,
- Better blood circulation,
- Better mobility and balance,
- Better mental health through stress relief and relief of symptoms of depression,
- Weight control through burning calories,
- Better sleep patterns.
There are many types of exercise, but two forms are important for maintaining health with diabetes: aerobic activity and strength training.
Aerobic activity strengthens your heart and bones, relieves stress, and helps your body to use insulin more effectively. It also reduces your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and blood glucose levels and improving your cholesterol.
What you need to do:
Thirty minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity at least five times a week. Don’t skip more than two days of working out, and try to spread different activities over at least three days.
If you haven’t been active before, you can start with just five or ten minutes daily, and work your way up from there. Add more time to your sessions each week and you will start to see your fitness improve.
There are many different types of aerobic activity:
- Walking, Jogging, or Running,
- Biking (Outdoors or Indoors),
- Stair climbing,
- Playing Tennis,
- Cross-Country Skiing,
- Moderate-to-heavy gardening.
Strength training can lower blood glucose and make your body more sensitive to insulin, while reducing your risk for osteoporosis through building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.
What you need to do:
Any form of strength training at least two days a week.
There are many ways to incorporate strength training into your daily life:
- Heavy gardening,
- Lifting weights (or other heavy objects at home),
- Using resistance bands,
- Bodyweight exercises (like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, dips, and planks),
- Weight machines at the gym,
- Strength training classes.
You can also add mobility and flexibility exercises to your daily routine.
Now, perhaps the hardest part of all… get up and go do it!