Keep moving! Five type 2 exercise tips
When it comes to managing type 2 diabetes, exercise can be just as important as insulin and proper nutrition. A 2010 statement from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association reports physical activity combined with modest weight loss reduces type 2 diabetes risk by up 58 percent among high-risk individuals.
"Eating well is one thing," said Amy Bragagnini, MS, RD, CSO at Lacks Cancer Center of St. Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids, Michigan, "but you can't maintain a healthy lifestyle without physical activity."
Fortunately, exercise doesn't have to be overwhelming or intimidating.
Type 2 exercise: safety is paramount
But before you jump into a new exercise routine, take care to keep your blood glucose at a safe level. Bragagnini advises her type 2 diabetes patients, especially those taking insulin, to work closely with their doctor or dietitian before starting an exercise regime.
"People on insulin need to have food in their system and need to eat at regular intervals," said Bragagnini.
However, exercise can change how your body processes glucose, and type 2 diabetes patients might need to adjust their food intake to avoid dangerously low dips in blood sugar levels. Since gender, age and weight can all impact how the body uses glucose, there is no cookie-cutter approach to what and when diabetes patients should eat.
"It is very person specific," said Bragagnini. "[Registered] dietitians will take everything into account when making recommendations."
Any type 2 exercise is better than nothing at all
While type 2 diabetes patients are encouraged to get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, Bragagnini says any amount of activity is better than none.
"Any physical activity is good," she said. "Start small if needed."
Bragagnini has the following tips for type 2 diabetes patients who want to start exercising more.
- Find an activity you like. Exercise doesn't have to involve heading to the gym. Walking, swimming or home workout videos can be just as good. The key is to find something you enjoy to ensure you will stick with it.
- Get a workout partner. If you are exercising alone, it is easier to skip a workout. Instead find a friend or family member who can provide accountability and motivation.
- Take advantage of trainers at the gym. Many gyms offer at least one free consultation with a personal trainer. If you do join a gym, don't overlook this valuable resource and personalized instruction.
- Incorporate resistance training. Resistance and weight training promotes good bone structure and stability. According to some studies, strength training may also improve insulin sensitivity.
- Exercise in small spurts. You don't have to exercise for 30 minutes straight to receive health benefits. Ten minute spurts spread throughout the day can work just as well.
Regular exercise is an important part of managing your type 2 diabetes. Putting these five simple tips into action can be the first step toward improving not only your blood sugar levels but also your overall quality of life.
Interview with Amy Bragagnini, Dietitian, Lacks Cancer Center
WebMD, "Strength Training and Diabetes"
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, "Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes", Volume 42, Issue 12, December 2010
height and weight into our Body Mass Index
Calculator to find out.