The goal of managing diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels in target range. How you achieve that goal is based on the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor. Medication, diet changes, and regular exercise are typically needed for success. However, fewer than 4 in 10 people with type 2 diabetes exercise regularly.

Physical Activity for Diabetes

Exercise is recommended for most people with diabetes, but check with your doctor first before increasing your activity level. Your doctor will likely suggest a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training:

· Aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercise is any activity that gets your heart pumping and keeps your heart rate up for an extended period of time. Cardio workouts will make you sweat and breathe harder. Examples include: brisk walking, running, dancing, swimming and cycling.

· Strength (or resistance) training only gets your heart rate up for a short period of time, but strength training is crucial because it builds muscle. Examples include: lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing any activity utilizing your own body weight — think push-ups, sit ups or intense yoga.

Studies show that a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training workouts is best for blood sugar control. Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week — that breaks down to 5, 30-minute sessions — and two strength training workouts each week. Keep in mind that some exercise is better than none at all, so don't stress if you cannot meet those guidelines.

The Ideal Workouts

Your doctor may tell you to avoid certain types of activity. For instance, running may not be a good idea if you have foot problems. Luckily, there are several types aerobic of exercises that are often safe for people with type 2 diabetes. Including the following:

· Swimming: Swimming, water aerobics and other pool workouts are ideal for people with diabetes because they're non-impact —meaning they won't put pressure on your feet and joints. To reduce the risk of foot injuries, wear special shoes made for the pool.

· Yoga: Yoga has many benefits for diabetics. It’s a great form of exercise, plus research shows that it may improve nerve function, lower blood pressure levels and combat stress. Managing stress well is critical for diabetes control because intense stress may cause blood sugar levels to spike.

· Brisk walking: Brisk walking is suggested by many doctors because it can be done almost anywhere, and the only piece of equipment you need is a good pair of shoes. Remember to keep your pace brisk, though — you should be able to carry on a light conversation, but you should also be breathing heavier than normal.

· Cycling: Riding a stationary bike is non-impact and it improves blood flow to your legs. It’s best to cycle indoors so you don't have to worry about falling or not feeling well when you’re a long way from home.


To learn more on this topic:

3 Low-Impact Exercises You Haven't Tried Yet
Improve Your Health with Pilates
Basic Guidelines for Aerobic Exercise