Regular exercise is at the heart of any healthy lifestyle, and that goes double for people with diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, exercise could help to decrease your insulin resistance while improving your glucose control. Physical activity can also burn fat, and the resulting weight loss could make diabetes management considerably easier – even if you lose just five to ten pounds.
Considering all this, it’s clear that building and following a vigorous exercise regimen is crucial for avoiding and managing type 2 diabetes. Not sure where to get started? This article will explain the benefits of exercise, how to get more physical activity, and how to stick with your new exercise routine.
The Numerous Health Benefits of Exercise
It’s difficult to overstate just how much regular exercise can improve your health. Whether you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, exercise can go a long way towards helping you keep your blood glucose levels under control and avoid other type 2 diabetes symptoms – and that’s just scratching the surface.
Exercise can make your life better by:
- Strengthening your heart, lungs, and muscles
- Lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol
- Improving your circulation
- Reducing your blood pressure
- Boosting your bone density
- Helping you sleep
- Relieving everyday stress
Don’t Get Started Without a Workout Plan
Because of these and other benefits of exercise, it may be tempting to jump into a new workout routine right away. While this level of motivation is commendable, doing so may not be the best idea if you have diabetes. Exercise can affect your blood glucose levels, so you’ll want to work with your healthcare team to build an exercise plan first.
Take An Exercise Stress Test
While creating your exercise plan, you may need to go through an exercise stress test. With this test, your healthcare team will be able to determine how physical activity affects your heart.
For most exercise stress tests, patients work out on a treadmill, starting at a slow walking pace before the intensity of this exercise increases. At the same time, these patients are connected to an electrocardiogram machine. This way, healthcare professionals can observe their heart rate and determine what level of exercise they can get without health risks.
All sorts of people can benefit from exercise stress tests, including people who have had type 2 diabetes for more than a decade, people with neuropathy or heart disease, and people over the age of 35. Do you fit any of these categories or have concerns about your ability to exercise? If so, ask your healthcare team about the possibility of doing a stress test.
Keep an Eye on Blood Glucose Levels
While the effects of exercise on your glucose levels can be a powerful motivator, this isn’t the only reason you should closely monitor these levels before, during, and after a workout. In some cases, exercise can lower your blood glucose level too much.
It’s essential for people taking insulin or other medications as part of their diabetes management efforts to consider this. Once you’ve gotten into a steady exercise routine, you may need to decrease your doses of these medications to avoid hypoglycemia. And when exercise is combined with a healthy diet and other lifestyle changes, some people with type 2 diabetes might be able to eliminate their need for diabetes medications.
Along with adjusting medication dosage, you can prevent or treat dangerously low blood sugar with carbohydrates. If you take diabetes medications, it’s a good idea to bring a fast-acting source of carbs with you when you work out. Glucose tablets, fruit juice, hard candies, and fresh fruit all fit the bill.
Diabetes Workout Schedules 101
If you weren’t getting much – or any – physical activity before receiving your diabetes diagnosis, you won’t be able to jump into a grueling workout routine right away. Instead, the best way to start exercising is by getting a comfortable amount of activity. Then, you can gradually increase the length, frequency, and intensity level of your workouts. Eventually, you’ll want to get 20-45 minutes of exercise, not including five to ten minutes to warm up before your workout and an equal amount of time to cool down after you finish. The goal is to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
Exercise for diabetes management doesn’t need to push you to your absolute limit. While you’ll want to increase your pulse and breathing rate, you should still be able to carry on a conversation while exercising. You can also use a pulse monitor to see how your heart rate compares to your target heart rate for added precision.
How often you exercise matters, too. If your goal is staying healthy and controlling your blood sugar, you should exercise at least three or four days a week. On the other hand, when you’re aiming to lose weight, it’s a good idea to increase this to at least five times a week.
How to Stick With It
Even if you’re able to create a perfect exercise routine, it won’t help you in the long term if you only follow it for a few weeks or months. But even if you’re optimistic about your lifestyle changes when you first get started, it can be challenging to stay motivated as time goes on.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to make it easier to stick to your workout plan:
- Use rewards to your advantage. After every week or month you’ve followed your exercise routine, give yourself a treat to celebrate your success. (It’s best to use non-food rewards for this purpose, especially when you’re managing diabetes.)
- Sign up for a gym. Doing so will let you use all sorts of exercise equipment and join the classes many gyms provide.
- Give exercise videos a try. Like any type of video, these are easier to find than ever, thanks to the Internet. You might be able to find workout DVDs at your local library, too.
- Use a pedometer to keep track of how much you are walking daily. Slowly work up to at least 10,00 steps a day.
- Don’t do it alone. The sense of community provided by exercise groups can be a surprisingly strong motivator. Or you can set up a “buddy system” with a fitness-minded friend!
- Monitor your progress. The easier it is to see how exercise is helping you, the easier it will be to keep exercising. A workout diary is a wonderful way to keep tabs on your exercise journey.
Other Ways to Get Physical Activity
It’s no secret that workout routines can be beneficial. Still, there are many different ways to increase your level of physical activity – some of which don’t involve setting foot in a gym. Over time, small steps like these can really add up:
- Turn TV time into workout time. Do stretches while watching your show of choice, and do sit-ups or leg lifts during commercials. Also, doing chores around the house burns calories.
- Spend time with your family. An after-dinner walk is ideal for improving your health while building valuable memories.
- Go out and walk your dog. Dogs need exercise too!
- Don’t take the elevator – climb the stairs instead.
- Park further away than you usually would in a parking lot. That way, you’ll get a short walk in.
- When you have to run errands, travel on bike or foot if you can.
Focus on Health With ADS
It can feel challenging to think about physical fitness when dealing with stress, even though exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety. Of course, people can’t control some sources of stress. Because of this, it’s imperative to deal with the problems you can fix.
If you’ve ever been concerned about running out of diabetes supplies, finding a more reliable company for these products is a good idea. ADS specializes in diabetes-related supplies, and we offer refill reminders and speedy shipping to ensure you’ll always have access to what you need. Take a look at the products ADS sells today!