From the American College of Sports Medicine
Why Is Weight Loss Important?
According to the NIH, approximately 80% of all people with type 2 diabetes
are overweight, and though more research is needed before medical science can
fully explain the relationship between diabetes and weight, there is no doubt
that exercise, in combination with a carefully controlled diet, helps people to
lose weight. With weight loss comes improved circulation and lower blood
pressure. Furthermore, people who are 20% or more over their normal weight have
an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The NIH emphasizes that
exercise alone is not usually effective for weight loss unless accompanied by
an appropriate reduced-calorie diet.
What Kind of Exercise Is Best?
Recent studies suggest that the ideal type of exercise regimen for
individuals with diabetes is one that emphasizes an all around approach.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, exercise programs that
address cardiovascular conditioning, muscular strength, and flexibility yield
the best total fitness for all people, including those with diabetes. In
combination with a controlled diet, this "cross training" is the best
way for individuals with diabetes to achieve overall fitness, combat
cardiovascular disease, and control blood sugar levels.
So, what exercises should you do? Do something you enjoy so you will stick
with it. Make it something you can do at least three days a week, and five
would be better. Aerobic exercises are the most effective kind of activity for
lowering blood sugar levels and combating cardiovascular disease. To obtain the
aerobic training effect, you should be able to do an exercise for a minimum of
20-30 minutes without stopping. Exercise hard enough that you feel invigorated
but not exhausted. Badenhop says, "A good way to tell that your exercise
intensity is appropriate is that that your breathing rate increases, but you
are still able to carry on a conversation."
The simplest way to exercise aerobically is by walking, especially if you
are just getting into exercise. Walk outdoors when the weather is fine, or
otherwise pick from a number of indoor possibilities. Besides inside walking
tracks at gyms and recreation centers, you can choose from literally thousands
of mall-walking programs. To find a mall-walking program near you, contact the
National Organization of Mall Walkers, PO Box 191, Hermann, MO 65041. The only
thing you need to begin your aerobic walking exercise is a good pair of shoes.
Be sure your shoes fit well because diabetic foot neuropathy and reduced
circulation could place you at an increased risk for blisters, ulcers, and
infections. Foot care is especially important for people with diabetes.
Badenhop highly recommends that people with diabetes have two pairs of walking
shoes and alternate from day to day between pairs to help keep their feet
Cardiovascular conditioning is the single most important aspect of an
exercise program for a person with diabetes. Focus on fitting regular and
frequent aerobic exercise into your schedule, but do it safely. Badenhop
suggests the following tips for patients with either type of diabetes to insure
that they exercise safely:
- Monitor your blood sugar levels before and after exercise.
- Eat foods such as bread, pasta, cereal, and rice 2-3 hours before
- Don?t exercise on an empty stomach.
- Avoid drinking any alcohol at exercise time.
- Drink plenty of water 1-2 hours before exercise.
- Exercise with someone who knows the warning signs of low blood sugar (see
- Be sure to warm up for 5-10 minutes before exercising.
- Check your feet regularly for blisters, scratches, and open wounds.