Having type 2 diabetes gives you another reason to exercise beyond slimming down and getting in shape. Regular physical activity helps you manage your blood sugar, weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. And that reduces your risk for diabetes-related problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Here are some of the best exercises to try.
Get Ready, Get Set
If you have type 2 diabetes, work with your doctor to develop an exercise plan that’s safe for you. Be sure to include aerobic activities that make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster. The latest diabetes guidelines recommend aiming for 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, spread out over several days.
Walk This Way
Walking is an excellent aerobic activity. It’s easy to do, and you don’t need any gear other than a pair of walking shoes. Aim for a moderate pace — able to talk, but breathing too hard to sing. Keep it interesting by walking with a friend or switching up your route.
Be a Pedal Pusher
Other aerobic activities include cycling, hiking, swimming, climbing stairs, rowing, tennis, and cardio classes. Varying your workouts can help you stay motivated. It may also reduce your risk of developing an overuse injury. Just check with your doctor first to make sure a new activity is safe for you.
Flex Your Muscles
Strength exercises, such as lifting weights or using weight machines, not only keep your muscles and bones strong, they also make your body more sensitive to insulin and help lower blood sugar. Current diabetes guidelines recommend strength training two to three days per week in addition to your aerobic activities.
Pull Your Weight
You can do strength training with dumbbells, resistance bands, or weight machines. But you can also use the weight of your own body to work your muscles. Classic strength moves include crunches, push-ups, and lunges. Not sure what to do? Join a toning class or sign up for a few sessions with a trainer.
Stretch It Out
Flexibility exercises — such as stretching — are a great addition to your fitness routine. They reduce stiffness, which helps you enjoy other activities more. Yoga is a particularly good choice. It improves flexibility, works your muscles, and calms your mind. Plus, some studies suggest that yoga may help control your blood sugar, although more research is needed.
If You Have High Blood Pressure
If you have diabetes complications, you don’t have to sit on the sidelines. However, your doctor may recommend avoiding certain activities. For example, people with high blood pressure may need to forego very strenuous activities and heavy weight lifting. But moderate aerobic and strength exercises are usually fine.
If You Have Diabetic Foot Disease
If you have nerve damage in your feet, avoid high-impact moves, such as running or jumping. However, moderate, low-impact activities — such as walking, cycling, and swimming — are generally OK. If you have a foot sore or injury, chair exercise is one way to stay active until the problem heals.
If You Have Diabetic Eye Disease
If you have diabetic retinopathy — damage to the retina of your eye — avoid very strenuous workouts, heavy weight lifting, and high-impact activities. Also, skip moves that put you in a head-down position, such as some yoga poses. But many moderate, low-impact activities are fine, with your doctor’s approval.
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