Diabetes Type 2 Management with Exercise

by admin on April 24, 2011

You, or someone in your family, were diagnosed with Diabetes Type 2. You have met with your doctor, your dietician, and got all their advice and you have the glossy booklet in your hand. Now what? Let’s take a look at one of the most basic requirements yet people often ignore; the exercise. I will share with you my experience in incorporating exercise into my life. It is a very important part of your regimen in managing diabetes type 2.

Well first things first, you have to adjust your lifestyle to incorporate the right diet and exercise into your life. You know what kind of food you should avoid, and you have no problem doing that. But somehow for most people, exercise is more difficult to follow. You hear all the excuses; no time, too busy, too tired, too far. The reality is, none of those is an excuse, because the exercise you need to manage diabetes type 2 is very simple and easy to follow.

I will break this down into several topics: why, how often, where, what kind, and how long.

The Rule

First and foremost, the rule. The exercise is not to make you get bigger, but to improve your metabolism so that your body can improve its natural ability to reduce glucose level in your blood. Diabetes type 2 means your body still has the insulin, but it is no longer effective, or what they call insulin-resistant, so the glucose or sugar level  in your system remains high, or doesn’t get low fast enough, depending of the diagnosis from the doctor for your specific condition based on the tests.

How Often Should I Do It?

The exercise needed to manage diabetes type 2 is no different than the exercise for most people to stay healthy. You should try to exercise every other day. I find for my situation exercising 3 times a week is optimum and it works well in lowering my diabetes type 2 blood sugar. The reason is because our body needs time to rest between exercises. So I usually exercise on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I take the weekend off because usually I play tennis on weekends.

I usually exercise in the evening after work because I have to leave for work very early in the morning. I know several friends who exercise in the morning as early as 5AM. You will be surprised to find that the gym is quite busy at that wee hours. Scheduling is up to each individual, any time that you know you will keep it and fits your lifestyle.


Where to do the exercise? I find in my experience doing it at the gym is the most effective, because of the atmosphere, everyone is there to exercise. It gives me the extra motivation to work harder and continue. It helps if you can ask friends or family members to go with you. Remember, the toughest enemy is to fight complacency. Your friends and family are there to support and motivate you.

Check with your local gym for family package memberships. There are facilities that offer fitness program as well as other perks such as indoor pool, gymnasium, tennis and so on. They are on the pricier side. I pick Planet Fitness, they offer a $10 a month membership with no annual or registration fee. They don’t have indoor pool or indoor tennis courts, but all I need is their fitness equipments, so it works well for me. There are other similar gyms in your area, ask around.

Some people feel more comfortable exercising at home, that is fine too. They key is to use it. That expensive equipment is useless if you don’t use it. Some people don’t use any equipment at all. They jog in their housing complex, or in a nearby park. Whichever works for you and your schedule.

What Kind of Exercise?

Almost any kind of exercise will work well, depending on your situation, there is no specific rule. I will give an example. Someone with a bad knee might want to skip the treadmill, and opt for the stationary bike instead, to lower the impact. There are other low impact exercises such as the elliptical, skimaster, or any other equipment, just ask the instructor, they will be happy to help you.

In my experience, using one equipment continuously is boring; so I rotate several equipments such as the bike, elliptical, and treadmill, depending on my mood. Remember, there is no specific rule, you make the decision. The goal is to burn calories.

Also, although cardio is the most important exercise for diabetes type 2, I try to incorporate other type of exercise such as muscle building. I especially like the 30-minute express room where I can use about eight or ten equipments in a row, two to three minutes each, with one minute interval. I don’t have to worry about how long, or what equipment to use for which muscle group, they decide it for me.

Every gym has an aerobic class several times a week. I suggest that you join because not only it is really beneficial, it actually reduces stress and very relaxing.

How Long?

Everyone is different. My advice is to ask your instructor if you are in doubt. My rule is very simple; I listen to my body. I will never push myself too far if I feel tired, it is a way of our body telling us that we need to stop. In general, try to start with ten minutes, which is a very short time for most people, but if you are not used to exercising, it is probably a good idea to start at a low base.

Gradually increase the duration and pay attention to your body. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop and seek expert advice. Ideally if you can exercise 30 minutes per session, that should be good enough. Some people exercise for one hour or longer per session, which is fine. Also many people choose to have a personal trainer; I used to have one many years ago, they are very helpful and they pay attention to detail. They will tailor a program that will work for you and your diabetes type 2.

I hope you will start your exercise tomorrow.

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