Exercise can help prevent, manage type 2 diabetes

Exercise can help prevent, manage type 2 diabetes

If you or someone you know is trying to manage type 2 diabetes or working to prevent the condition altogether, exercise is a crucial step in making that goal a reality. The long-term benefits of regular exercise on blood sugar levels are real and unquestionable.

More than 1-in-3 adults deal with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Increased physical activity can help to reverse the effects of abnormal blood glucose control. Fortunately, exercising for blood sugar control and insulin health doesn’t have to be complicated.

According to the American Diabetes Association, adults with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes should perform at least 150 minutes, that is 2 ½ hours, of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every week. Ideally, weekly exercise would be spread over at least three days with no more than two days passing without some form of active movement. Consistent exercise is the key to controlling this disease.

Get support from your healthcare team. Talk to your primary care physician or endocrinologist before beginning an exercise program. This will help you choose a form of exercise that is best suited for any coexisting health conditions you may be dealing with, such as heart disease or diabetic neuropathy.

If you’re new to exercise, start slow, go easy on yourself. If 150 minutes per week seems like a lot, start with a goal of 45 minutes of exercise for the week, then 60, then 75 and continue until you hit and maintain the goal of 150 minutes. In addition to being one of the best ways to stay motivated to exercise when you have diabetes, this gradual increase of exercise will reduce the risk of aches, pains and injury.

Weekly workouts should include resistance, or strength, training at least two or three days, preferably on nonconsecutive days. Research shows performing both aerobic, also known as cardiovascular, exercise and strength training is far more beneficial at improving blood sugar control and insulin health than either type of exercise alone.

Exercise helps manage prediabetes and type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels and improving insulin sensitivity throughout the body. Active movement triggers the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream into the working muscles and organs. People with elevated blood sugar levels can benefit from walks after meals.

Building muscle when it comes to blood sugar management is consistently underrated. After a meal, close to 75% of the glucose in your body goes to the muscles. The lower your muscle mass is, the more you limit the capacity to clear the sugar from the bloodstream. On the flip side, the more muscle you maintain throughout the aging process, the more insulin receptors you have to lower the sugar levels in the blood.

Although nutrition is the main driver of weight loss, the addition of weekly exercise allows for far greater outcomes. Exercise both burns calories and helps the body maintain lean muscle, which often decreases when limiting calories. Get moving.

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes care and education specialist and a registered, licensed dietitian. Email her at bobbierandallrd@gmail.com.

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