Don’t feel bad if exercise hasn’t been on the forefront of your to-do list. Life is busy! On average, people are moving their bodies less, standing or sitting at their desks more, and perhaps making less time for fitness and/or improving their diets at home. Such factors can and do play a part in the development of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, having a successful diabetes exercise plan will help your overall health.
There are actions you can take now to help prevent the onset of prediabetes or to take care of your body if you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes. One of those actions is a plan for regular exercise.
Whether you’re prediabetic or already have diabetes, the good news is that exercising can significantly lower your sugar levels! With the guidance of your primary care physician, you might be able to manage your glucose and your lifestyle in a way that makes living with diabetes, or preventing it, much easier.
Exercise and Diabetes Management
Coupled with a healthy diet, exercise is an effective way to mitigate diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2. Try to implement a workout routine gradually into your day-to-day, customizing it according to your individual needs. A simple diabetes exercise plan will also help keep your blood sugar levels in range.
Here are some common considerations when adjusting your fitness routine to support your diabetes management:
- Dawn Phenomenon: Also known as the dawn effect, the dawn phenomenon is when your body releases stored glucose between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.. If you experience this, it’s best to exercise in the morning to burn that sugar.
- Exercise-Related Sugar Spikes: The adrenalin produced during exercising makes the liver release extra glucose, so many people experience blood-sugar spikes during or immediately after exercising. It’s better to start your workout when your blood sugar is on the lower side.
- Dawn Phenomenon + Exercise-Related Sugar Spikes: Exercising in the evening is especially vital if you experience both dawn phenomenon and increased sugar levels from exercising.
- Taking Insulin: If you’re taking insulin, it’s wise to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Your doctor will adjust your insulin levels to avoid hypoglycemia, which can be dangerous. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your health routine.
Below are some of the potential hurdles to a viable sugar-reducing exercise plan and some solutions:
Having a Busy Schedule
A busy schedule can be the biggest hindrance to any sustainable exercise routine. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities spread out throughout the week. Don’t get scared! This is not meant to be done all at once, but spread in a way that works for you and your goals. Consistency is key.
If spread out evenly, 150 minutes Monday through Friday is just 30 minutes a day. To avoid getting overwhelmed and to ensure you’re consistent, aim for a slow start. What’s crucial is that you move your body!
Here is an example of gradually building up your exercise plan:
- First month: 15 minutes, 3 times a week
- Second month: 30 minutes, 3 times a week
- Third month: 30 minutes, 4 times a week
- Fourth month: 30 minutes, 5 times a week
Not Having a Workplace Movement Routine
One key reason people may not be exercising or moving their bodies that much throughout the day is pretty straight-forward: they’re at work, sitting more than they’re moving. There are workplace programs that are exceptionally effective for sustaining a healthier lifestyle and preventing work-related injuries in order to maintain overall health both in and out of the workplace. Not only do these programs maximize employee productivity, they also keep them at work by preventing injuries and illness.
Discipline and/or Consistency
If you find that you still can’t keep yourself on track, doing an inventory of yourself and acting accordingly is crucial.
The following habits are useful for cultivating discipline and consistency:
- Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses: If you notice yourself interrupting important tasks to check social media, then locking your smartphone away for a specific set of hours would prevent you from falling into temptation. Also, if you’re more energetic at a certain time of day, then exercising during that block of time would be optimal. Basically, use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage.
- Remove distractions: This was touched upon previously, but it deserves further consideration as distractions are a huge impediment. Some distractions that can keep you from cultivating discipline are cell phones, computers, alcohol, junk food, and staying out late.
- If you fail, move on: Sometimes, if we don’t live up to something we tend to just give up out of despair. If you miss a day, forgive yourself, and move on. If you drank a little too much the night before, hydrate, get some rest, and shake it off.
Diabetes intervention, prevention, and management are just some of the many benefits you can gain from exercising, so don’t leave it for next week or next month. Be proactive with your diabetes exercise plan, and start taking these baby steps today!
Aaron Smith is an LA-based content strategist and consultant in support of STEM firms and medical practices. He covers industry developments and helps companies connect with clients. In his free time, Aaron enjoys swimming, swing dancing, and sci-fi novels.