Diet and medication are not the only aspects to bear in mind if you are dealing with type 2 diabetes. Exercise is highly recommended for the vast majority of patients. Having a regular and gentle fitness routine while watching your diet and strictly following your medication schedule can lower your blood sugar and help you lose weight.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle and haven’t exercised in years, thinking of a workout routine and getting a gym membership can seem a daunting task. In this case, the best solution is to break down bigger tasks into smaller ones and ease yourself into your new fitness routine. The benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.
This list of 10 carefully selected exercise tips will show you how to ease your way into a more active lifestyle and slowly work your way up from there.
1. Get the green light from your doctor
Before you start any new activity, make sure to talk to your doctor and let them know what you want to do. They will make sure you’re not going to put a strain on your body and give you advice tailored to your specific needs. Your doctor should also let you know if you should change your medicine, your meal schedule or insulin routine. You can also inquire about recommended times of day for exercising and check if this is important or not.
2. Create a list of fun activities
Most people with type 2 diabetes postpone physical activities because they think these involve going to the gym. But exercising and fitness go beyond that. Any activity that will get you up and moving counts. The first thing we recommend is to make a list with your favorite fun activities. Here are some examples to get you inspired: yoga, stretching, pilates, biking, dancing, walking the dogs in the park, and swimming are all gentle yet effective at introducing you to a more active lifestyle. Whether you decide to build a home gym with a few cardio machines or you choose outdoor activities, start slow and build up from there.
3. Keep track of your overall activity
Type 2 diabetes patients who are not accustomed to an active lifestyle might be tempted to choose one type of exercise and stick to it without doing anything else. But doctors recommend that you focus on your overall activity instead. Your day should comprise a blend of activities that range from climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator, walking instead of taking the bus, and doing housework instead of hiring someone else to do it. Additionally, incorporate specific fitness routines that will boost the amount of exercise you get, such as jogging or aerobics.
4. Use a pedometer
Many people underestimate the number of calories they eat while overestimating the exercise they do on a daily basis. This is where a pedometer comes in handy. Pedometers have been proven to boost motivation for physical activity. Studies have shown that setting a daily goal of a certain number of steps is very important, even if the target is not reached. People who use a pedometer showed a bigger drop in blood pressure, lost weight faster, and walked more every day in comparison to people who don’t use a pedometer.
5. Establish specific objectives
Telling yourself you have to exercise more is a good start but might not be the most efficient way to actually start exercising. If you want to establish a regular fitness routine for the next few months that will help you with your overall health, you need a rigorous plan and attainable goals. For this, you can use a weekly planner or a mobile app that will help you keep track of your activities and send you reminders or notifications. For instance, you can set a goal of light jogging 15 minutes three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday, and going to a yoga class two times a week, on Tuesday and Thursday.
6. Reward yourself
Dealing with type 2 diabetes involves a lot of worrying about a slew of things that could go wrong. Exercising should not be one of those things. On the contrary, you should reward yourself after a week of regular workouts and activities. At the same time, try to focus on the benefits of physical activities like being healthier and having more energy rather than only thinking about weight loss.
7. Use visual reminders
It can be easy to go through a day and forget to exercise. To avoid this, use visual cues as reminders. If you want to work out in the morning in order to get it out of your way, you can leave your workout clothes out by your bedroom door the night before. Seeing the gear as soon as you wake up will make it harder for you to forget or find excuses not to exercise.
8. Join a class with a friend
Working out doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In fact, having a fitness buddy can help boost your motivation and it makes you more responsible about working out and sticking to a schedule. Whether your buddy has diabetes or not, you can choose an activity that you both enjoy and are comfortable with. Joining a class is an excellent activity to do with a friend. Make sure to inform the leader of your condition and ask for modified exercises if you are not comfortable with certain moves.
9. Tackle one habit at a time
Changing all of your habits at the same time can be nerve racking and stressful. If you want to make a lot of changes to your lifestyle, including introducing fitness into your daily routine, make sure to change one behavior at a time and give yourself enough time to accommodate to each one before moving to the next one. As studies have shown, the recipe for success when it comes to exercising is easing yourself into it, practicing moderation, and only focusing on changing one behavior at a time.
10. Don’t forget about carbs, water, and appropriate gear
Nothing can make working out as uncomfortable or unpleasant as the wrong gear. You should be equipped according to the activity you are performing. For jogging and running, invest in proper shoes that will protect your feet and joints, offering the right amount of support you need. For yoga, select the right clothes that allow you to stretch and feel comfortable. You should always have water and a snack with you whenever you are exercising. A fruit or a small snack packed with carbs will come in handy if your blood sugar drops. You should drink water before, during and after your work out to prevent dehydration.
Health benefits you will get
If you still feel unmotivated to put your shoes on and go work out, keep in mind how much fitness can help you cope with type 2 diabetes:
- Stronger bones and muscles;
- Lower blood pressure;
- Improved blood flow;
- Boosted mood and energy levels;
- Decreased stress levels;
- Reduced risk of strokes and heart diseases.
Guest post from Freedom Strength