Exercise has been shown to be an excellent way to regulate and/or help manage diabetes.
There are two types of exercise recommended to help control diabetes: aerobic exercise and strength training.
Aerobic exercise is defined as any sustained exercise such as jogging, rowing, swimming or cycling that stimulates and strengthens the heart and lungs, thereby improving the body’s use of oxygen. For people with diabetes, aerobic activity helps the body regulate insulin more efficiently and decreases the risk of heart disease by lowering blood glucose and blood pressure.
Your goal should be to complete 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity spread out over three to six days. Moderate activity is defined as any activity that leads to heavier breathing and elevates your heart rate. The “talk test” is a simple way to measure intensity. In general, you’re doing a moderately intense activity if you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. Consistency is also important, so make sure not to go more than two consecutive days without exercising. If you haven’t been regularly exercising, focus on gradually working your way up to 150 minutes per week. Start gradually, maybe 10 to 15 minutes per day and then increase the time you’re doing aerobic exercise each week.
Strength training is also an important component to diabetes management. Strength training has been shown to make the body more sensitive to insulin in addition to maintaining and building strong muscles and bones. Increased muscle mass allows you to burn more calories, even at rest. Strength training also helps you maintain an independent lifestyle as you age.
To get the full benefit, it’s recommended that you complete at least two strength training sessions per week targeting all the major muscle groups of the body.