Physical activity is very important for people with diabetes. Regular physical activity helps to lower blood glucose, increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin and lower your risk of heart disease and nerve damage. If you are pre-diabetic, or at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity can help to delay the onset of diabetes.
Types of Exercise and Physical Activity for Living with Diabetes
Physical activity is essentially any form of movement that increases your heart rate and breathing, causing your body to burn calories. This can be in the more traditional forms of exercise like walking, cycling, swimming or sports activities, but can also include other activities such as gardening, cleaning and many other daily activities.
There are two broad categories of physical activity that are important to overall health:
Aerobic exercise involves continuous movement that raises your heart and breathing rate. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming.
Resistance Training involves repetitions of exercises involving some kind of resistance (i.e weights, resistance bands or your body weight)
How Much Physical Activity Do I Need?
The goal is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This breaks down to 30 minutes, 5 times per week. In addition to aerobic exercise, aim to engage in resistance training 2-3 times per week.
Avoid long periods of sitting by getting up every 20-30 minutes to stand or walk around. Taking simple steps to add physical activity to your day can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being.
How to Get Started and Stay Active
- Find something you enjoy.
Doing something you enjoy will not only make exercising a fun part of your routine, but you may be encouraged to exercise more often if you enjoy the activity you’re undertaking.
- Start small and set a goal.
Start slow and gradually add in more time and intensity every week. If you have been inactive for a long period, it will take some time to build stamina. Setting a goal helps to keep you motivated. Set a realistic and specific goal and work towards it.
- Buddy up.
Find a friend, family member, or another partner to get active with. It’s more fun when you have company and perhaps a bit of friendly competition.
- Schedule it in.
Set time aside in your schedule for physical activity. The more you do, the easier it gets. Form healthy habits by making exercise a priority in your schedule.
Before You Start:
- Talk to your doctor about your intentions to start an exercise regime. Ask about how a change in physical activity will affect your Diabetes management. If you have Type 1 Diabetes, discuss your options to reduce your risk of low blood sugar after exercise.
- Ensure you have well-fitting, supportive, and comfortable shoes designed for the exercise you plan on undertaking.
- Carry a fast-acting carbohydrate with you in case you need to treat low blood sugar.
Even a Small Change Can Make a Big Difference
Change can be hard, but know that even if you’re only making a small change, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Every change, no matter how small, positively impacts your body. If you need guidance on how to become more physically active, ask your doctor, diabetes health care team or healthcare provider for more information.
Looking for more information about staying active with diabetes? Contact our team of expert Pedorthists for more information.