Exercises & Guidelines for Managing Diabetes

As many type 2 diabetics may already know, exercise is fantastic for helping control your blood pressure. Exercise is also known to increase energy and lead to an overall better mood. It’s important that diabetics who are able to exercise take advantage of the benefits that exercising can offer.

However, knowing where to start when you haven’t worked out in years can be a bit of a struggle. You may get so excited that you go to the gym for two hours your first day, only to wake up the next morning and decide to definitely never go to the gym again. Easing yourself into a steady exercise routine is key to sticking with it and managing your diabetes.

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise regimen. They’ll be glad to hear that you’re taking this key step in managing your diabetes. Your doctor will be able to work with you to monitor your body’s reaction to a new exercise regimen.

Why You Should Exercise

One of the most well known risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes is living an inactive lifestyle. People with inactive lifestyles are also much more likely to become overweight, which makes managing diabetes more difficult. Exercise is an excellent way to help manage your weight and risk factors if you lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle.

Exercise is well known for being the best way to lose weight and keep it off for good. There’s a reason that doctors recommend that diabetics find the time to exercise in order to manage their diabetes. It’s because it works - studies show that exercising over a period of time leads to lower A1C levels.

Exercise works to lower your blood glucose levels for up to 24 hours after your workout. This happens because exercise makes your body more sensitive to insulin. It’s essential that you learn how your body’s blood glucose level respond to exercise by monitoring it carefully at the start of any exercise regimen. This will help you and your healthcare provider monitor your risk for hypoglycemia.

Not only are there the tangible health benefits to working out, but it’s well documented that exercise can lead to an overall better mood. If you’ve ever heard of a runner’s high, it’s possible to achieve the same feeling of happiness with any form of exercise. The clarity of mind and the feeling of pride that comes with working out are important benefits to keep in mind when going to the gym is the last thing you want to do today.

How Much Exercise Do I Need?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with type 2 diabetes exercise moderately for at least two and a half hours a week, preferably 30 minutes for 5 days a week. Your exercise days should be spread out, but you should try to avoid going more than 2 days without working out. Allow yourself time to rest, but not so much time between workouts that you forget what it’s like to be sore after a workout.

The best part about exercise is that you can break your time into chunks and still get the same benefits. Studies have shown that if you’re too busy to fit a full 30 minute workout in, you can receive the same benefits from breaking your exercise into smaller 10 minute chunks throughout the day. It’s much easier to fit smaller chunks of fitness into your day than a daunting 30 minutes.

The most important part about starting to use exercise to manage your diabetes is finding the time to work out. It’s not a glamorous, Rocky Balboa style workout to go for a 10 minute walk after every meal, but it’s a great place to start. As you find yourself growing more confident with your overall health and fitness, you can work your way into longer, more intensive exercise.

Where Do I Start?

Before starting a new exercise routine, make sure you talk over any potential medical complications or risks with your doctor. You should also have a plan for staying safe and hydrated while you exercise, especially if you do so outdoors. Your final bit of prep should include making sure that you have the right gear, including a good pair of socks and shoes.

You should start with moderate exercise - as in you could hold a conversation, but not sing along to a song. Make sure you pace yourself and stay hydrated as you go. If a full 30 minute workout seems like too much for you, it’s perfectly fine to break that time into more manageable chunks like 15 minutes before work and 15 minutes after lunch.

Stuck on ideas for how to exercise? Consider one of the following to start:

  • Walking is great for people who need to go easy on their joints. A good brisk walk is definitely a workout and can provide many of the same benefits that runners brag about on social media.
  • Swimming is another fantastic workout for those looking for a workout that’s easy and fun. Much like walking, swimming is a go-at-your-own-pace sort of workout that can feel more like having a good time than a chore you find excuses to put off.
  • Dancing isn’t just for fun anymore! It doesn’t matter if you’re dancing with a partner in a salsa class or busting a move in your kitchen, as long as your body is moving and there’s a good song on, you’re technically working out.
  • Hiking is a wonderful way to explore nature while working up a sweat. There are plenty of trails for beginners to give hiking a go. The beauty of nature combined with a good workout is sure to do wonders for both your mood and your blood glucose levels.
  • Bicycling is no longer just for newspaper boys. The stationary bike industry is almost as big as the actual bicycle industry now, and it’s for a good reason. Cycling is a great workout that, again, can feel less like a chore and more like a fun hobby.

Once you’ve found the exercise type, time, and location that works for you the most essential part of the process is to stick to it. Exercising a few days here and there for a couple of months and calling it quits isn’t giving yourself the time you deserve. Your health matters and exercise is an important part of staying healthy and managing your type 2 diabetes.

Another great way to manage your type 2 diabetes through exercise is by strength training. Building muscle through exercise helps make your body more sensitive to insulin. This is fantastic when you’re looking to lower your blood glucose levels and keep them under control for a long period of time.

Don’t know where to start with strength training? Try one of the following:

    • Weight machines are a great strength training option when you have access to a gym. Make sure you know how to operate the machine you’re using before you really get going in order to maximize your safety and your results.
    • Resistance bands can be used if you’d much rather work out at home. When used correctly, they provide the resistance needed to work your muscles in order to make them stronger.
  • Body weight exercises are a free strength training option that you can start with almost no prep work. You can work all areas of your body using a combination of body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, planks, push ups, and sit ups.

  • Your workout routine should include a good mix of both strength training and aerobic exercise. Keeping your routine creative is a great way to help yourself stick to it. If you’re limited on time, a varied exercise schedule will help you increase your overall health in many ways rather than just a few.

    Now that you’ve started your exercise regimen, you’re on track to seeing some great health benefits. Invite your friends, family, and coworkers to work out with you if you feel like you need a boost to keep going. Exercising together with someone is a great way to form strong bonds and great memories while doing both of your bodies a lot of good.

    Exercise is Key For Type 2 Diabetes Management

    It’s no secret that managing your type 2 diabetes can be a struggle. Adding an exercise routine can seem like adding yet another piece to the puzzle, but it’s an extremely useful tool when it comes to managing your blood sugar levels. Keeping your blood sugar stable is easier when you’re more sensitive to insulin, which happens when you workout.

    In addition to helping your body become sensitive to insulin, working out also helps you lose weight. Studies have shown that those that exercise in addition to a healthy diet are most likely to keep the weight they lose off for good. Not only will you look and feel better after losing a bit of weight, you may find it easier to manage your type 2 diabetes as well.

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