For many people with type 2 diabetes, being diagnosed with the disease is a kick start to the healthier life they wished they’d pursued earlier.
Exercise is a key component of staving off the worst effects of T2D because it can provide the body with a way to balance blood sugar and insulin levels. But what kinds of exercise? And how often?
Here are some helpful exercise tips for type 2 diabetes so you can do the right things to manage your condition.
The clock and the calendar will become your allies in managing type 2 diabetes. You need a routine. Treat your exercise regimen the same as you do your meal and supplement plan and your medication schedule. Sticking to a routine provides a much greater chance of successfully managing T2D than a haphazard approach.
Speaking of routine, dedicate 30 minutes every single day to simply raising your resting heartbeat. You don’t have to blaze through extended challenges like P90X. Many type 2 sufferers are overweight, in fair to poor health, have other complications, and thus aren’t ideally suited to long and exhausting workouts. But a walk or a gentle bike ride for half an hour each day is very beneficial. 30 minutes is doable, even more so if your wellbeing depends on it. If the clock or your stamina cause you problems at first, split the 30 minutes into two shorter segments.
One of the absolute best exercise tips for type 2 diabetes is to engage in some aerobic activity – like walking. Walking is the cornerstone exercise for T2D. Now, aerobic exercise is defined as activity that will “stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs, thereby improving the body’s utilization of oxygen” (dictionary.com). You need to establish with your doctor what exercise to do and how to approach it, depending on how much/little glucose you need to burn or how you need your body to use insulin. Good aerobic exercises include walking/hiking, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, yoga, dance classes, boxing, and martial arts.
Go easy when you start. There’s no need to bust yourself on day one. Whether you’re getting outside on a trail or using a treadmill at home, just set a moderate pace that brings your heartrate 30 beats per minute above resting. Over time, as your fitness improves and you bring your daily blood sugar under control, you can increase your pace and distance. Aim for steady improvement rather than exhaustion.
Remember to eat appropriately (no carb loading) and stay hydrated.
If you can, incorporate some strength training, preferably supervised. (It’s unwise for a diabetic to go hard with weights while alone. Or anyone, really.) Strength training is enormously beneficial for all people, especially in later years. It’s good for bone integrity, improved mobility, better metabolism, increased immunity, and heart health. (Remember heart disease is a major risk and potential complication from diabetes.) For T2D, being stronger can enable you to lose weight, respond to insulin better, and improve how your body utilizes blood sugar.
If you live anywhere near a park, you may have seen a tai chi class. While this ancient eastern art is not aerobic in nature, it can be very beneficial for type 2 diabetes. Tai chi’s slow and methodical routine of moves not only provides a good level of fitness and balance, it’s an excellent way to relieve stress.
Our final exercise tip for dealing with type 2 diabetes is twofold: do the small things and stay positive. Take the stairs, walk or ride to the shops, take a parking space an extra 150 feet away from the front door, and so on to increase your activity levels. Then praise yourself for doing these, along with your daily exercise, and tell yourself how good and alive you feel. All of these small things accumulate and help build pride and positivity about what you’re doing.
Those are simple exercise tips if you have type 2 diabetes. Remember to talk to your doctor, follow your medication plan, and adhere to a proven regimen of diabetic diet and supplements. You can improve your health and fitness, and thus your daily life with diabetes.
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