Exercising can be as simple as taking a walk — the trick is continuing to take those steps regularly to help you control type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity can help boost your weight loss efforts, and even a small amount of weight loss — just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight — can help improve your blood sugar control.
Exercise also has the ability to improve your A1C level, which measures your blood sugar control over the past two to three months. In addition, regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Matthew Corcoran, MD, CDE, an endocrinologist with Shore Physicians Group in Egg Northfield, New Jersey, and founder of the Diabetes Training Camp in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Exercise also helps your body use insulin better, adds Jill Weisenberger, RDN, CDE, a certified diabetes educator in Newport News, Virginia, and the author of Diabetes Weight Loss — Week by Week. You need insulin, a hormone made by your pancreas, to deposit glucose or blood sugar, a source of energy, into your cells. Exercise helps train the body to use insulin better long-term, Weisenberger says.
An effective workout routine for type 2 diabetes is one that includes both aerobic exercise and strength training, also known as resistance exercise. People with type 2 diabetes who incorporated both aerobic and strength-training exercises into their routine experienced improved blood sugar control after just 12 weeks, according to a study published in February 2015 in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. Participants also reported increased energy levels and improved self-esteem.
How to Stick With Your Exercise Plan
Knowing the many benefits of exercise doesn’t always make it easy to keep up with your workout plan. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, try these seven tips to maintain your momentum and make exercise a permanent part of your diabetes management routine:
Start slowly. If you’ve been a couch potato then suddenly run five miles on your first day of exercise, you’ll be sore on day two, perhaps with blisters on your feet, and ready to throw in the towel. Instead, if you’re not used to being active, the American Diabetes Association recommends starting slowly by walking 10 minutes each day at a comfortable pace. As your fitness levels improve, aim to add three to five minutes to your walking routine each week, until you reach a goal of 30 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week.
Choose an activity you like. You’ll also be more likely to stick with your exercise plan if it’s fun and invigorating and suits your abilities. For example, if you don’t enjoy walking on a treadmill, it will be hard to stay motivated to step on it and stay on it every day. Yet, if you like walking briskly outside, as long as you have the proper gear for the weather, you’re likely to make the time for it every day, Weisenberger says. Trying new activities can also help to keep fitness fresh and exciting, Weisenberger notes.
Grab a friend. Having someone to exercise with helps pass the time more quickly and takes your mind off the effort you need to exercise, says Rob Powell, PhD, CDE, assistant professor of Exercise Physiology and the Director of the Diabetes Exercise Center at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and exercise physiologist at Dr. Corcoran’s Diabetes Training Camp. Pick a buddy who will hold you accountable and encourage you to show up for your exercise session.
Reward yourself along the way. Celebrate milestones, such as after you’ve stuck to the plan for one week, one month, two months, and so on. Just don’t celebrate with food. Go see a movie, get tickets to a concert, or download new music for your workout playlist — choose songs that will inspire you during future workouts.
Formally schedule your workouts. Block out the time in your daily planner, especially if you’re prone to letting the day get away from you. Seeing exercise on your daily to-do list reminds you that it’s a priority. If it helps, you can break your exercise routine up into smaller chunks throughout your day.
Prep for your workouts. Lay out your clothes for your morning workout before you go to bed at night — or even sleep in them. You can also pack your gym bag so you can just grab and go when you leave in the morning. “If your gym clothes are stuck in the back of your closet, you’re less likely to reach for them,” Powell says.
Check your blood sugar before and after exercise. This shows you how much exercise helps to improve blood sugar control. “When you see how your body reacts to different types of exercises and the length and intensity of your workout, it can motivate you to stick with what works,” Weisenberger says. Also, be sure to keep glucose tablets or juice boxes in your gym bag or locker so that you can address an episode of low blood sugar, should it happen while exercising — and stop if you feel shaky or anxious.
When you start to see results of exercising regularly, you won’t want to stop — and that’s the greatest motivation of all.
This content was originally published here.