Everyone knows that if you live with type 2 diabetes, exercise will be beneficial not only for your blood sugars, but for your overall health and well-being. The tougher issue is to know where, when, and how to get started. Learn more about the risks, benefits, and factors to consider when starting an exercise regimen while living with type 2 diabetes. Please note: always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.
The benefits of exercise for people with type 2 diabetes are well-known. Exercise helps maintain tighter blood sugar control, lowers the risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular complications, improves blood pressure levels, strengthens muscles and bones, and helps to improve quality of sleep and the body’s ability to handle stress. According to the CDC, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (like walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity (like jogging or dancing) each week.
Factors to Consider
The best type of exercise is the type that you’ll do regularly, so a main factor to consider is finding something that you like doing. If you dislike the gym, don’t force yourself into a habit of going. If you love the outdoors, craft your fitness routine around hiking or a morning walk. If you love music, maybe take up dancing. The options are endless, so find an activity that you’ll enjoy, and you’re more likely to stick with it!
Recommended Types of Exercise
- Weight/Strength Training
Additionally, making a fitness activity a habit is the best way to make sure you do it regularly. Pair a walk while sipping your morning coffee each day, or make a date with a friend each Saturday afternoon for a hike in a local park. Opt to bike to work a few times per week, or go to the grocery store on foot, instead of driving. Creating a habit of exercise is the best way to make sure you stick to a new routine.
Make your fitness routine known by sharing your intentions with family and friends, and get them in on it, too. Having people around who support your new lifestyle will ensure that you keep at it, and they’ll benefit from joining in as well. It is also beneficial to have tech help you out. Read up on the 10 best fitness apps for beginners, and prepare to get hooked on being active, tracking your progress, and meeting measurable goals while getting healthier.
Precautions to Take
If you’re new to exercise, it’s important to ease into it. Start with walking, or simply moving more: take the stairs instead of the elevator, or park farther away from the entrance to the grocery store when you do your weekly shopping. Wear a pedometer or fitness watch to track your steps, and aim to get 10,000 each day.
It’s also important to check in with your doctor or care provider before starting any new exercise routine, to make sure you are healthy enough to begin. Also seek their input and advice on what exercise they recommend for you to get started. You will also want to discuss any potential adjustments to any of your diabetes medications before starting a new routine. Additionally, make sure you have quality shoes for walking and exercising, as healthy foot maintenance is vital for people with diabetes.
Lastly, make sure you’re always prepared for your workout with checking your blood sugar before, during, and afterwards to make sure you’re within your target range, and always carry low snacks and plenty of water with you to make sure you’re staying hydrated and protected from hypoglycemia while exercising.
It’s crucial to set realistic goals for your exercise. Are you looking for more peace of mind? To lose weight? To have a healthier HbA1c? Spend more time outside? Really get a clear focus on what you want to accomplish, and aim your exercise routine around that goal. Remember, start small so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Lastly, make sure you have fun. Exercise is about building healthier habits, getting your heart rate pumping, and enjoying yourself while doing something that’s good for you. If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right! Make sure to enjoy yourself, and you’ll find that a healthy exercise routine builds dividends over time.
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Read more about A1c, exercise, Intensive management, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).