Being told you have Type 2 Diabetes can be really scary and overwhelming. I understand that you may not know what it means, why you have it, or how to still live a 'normal' life. But let me tell you, the key to managing diabetes is EXERCISE!
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is a complex condition that is influenced by various factors, including genetics and lifestyle factors. While you can't control your genetics, there are certain lifestyle factors that you can modify. These include low physical activity levels, poor diet, and excess weight, specifically fat mass.
The Role of Exercise in Managing Type 2 Diabetes
But what does it actually mean to have Type 2 Diabetes? Basically, it's when there's too much sugar floating around in your blood stream. This can happen because you're eating too much sugar or because the receptors in your muscles have reduced sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that's responsible for storing and utilizing glucose (sugar) as energy. When the receptors in your muscles aren't receptive to insulin, the excess sugar can't get used up and stays in your bloodstream.
How Does Exercise Help?
Think of insulin like a key to a lock, with each receptor being a lock on a door. Over time, if you don't take care of those locks, they become harder to open, like a dodgy old door. And before you know it, you're stuck outside, and the sugar is just floating around in your bloodstream. This can cause some pretty unpleasant problems, like peripheral neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and even weight gain.
The Benefits of Resistance Training
But don't worry, exercise can help manage your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of developing these complications. Specifically, resistance training can increase muscle mass, which leads to greater presence of a protein known as Glut4. Glut4 works like a shuttle bus to transport sugar into our working muscle cells to be used as energy. Resistance training has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which means it's easier to unlock those locks on the door and let the sugar in. This results in a decline in blood sugar levels following exercise.
What Exercises Should I Do?
Now, you might be wondering what exercises are best for you. Honestly, any exercise is good for you as long as you're doing something you enjoy and that feels manageable. But, to get more bang for your buck, we want to look at compound resistance exercises that engage multiple muscle groups. Here are three simple exercises that can help lower your blood sugar:
Sit to Stand: All you need is a chair! Start seated on the chair with your arms crossed and stand all the way up before returning to a seated position. Do this 8 times before having a rest and going again.
Bench Push Up: A great exercise for your upper body that works the muscles on your chest. Take a step back and place hands on your bench just outside shoulder width. Lower your chest towards the bench before pressing away. Do this 10 times before having a rest.
Glute Bridge: This exercise is great to target the muscles in your posterior chain which are those at the back of your legs and bottom. Start by lying on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees. From here, lift your hips up off the floor (or bed) by pushing through your heels and squeezing your bottom. Hold for a second at the top before returning to the starting position. This is one repetition. Do 10 repetitions before having a rest.
I hope this article has been helpful in explaining why exercise is so important for managing Type 2 Diabetes. Remember, any exercise is good exercise, and it's never too late to start. Take it slow, find something you enjoy, and start seeing the benefits of exercise for yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to exercise if I have diabetes? Yes, it is safe to exercise if you have diabetes. In fact, exercise can be a powerful tool in managing blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of complications associated with diabetes. However, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
What type of exercise is best for managing blood sugar levels? Resistance training has been shown to be particularly effective in managing blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. This type of exercise aims to increase muscle mass, which can result in greater presence of a protein known as Glut4, which works as a shuttle bus to transport sugar into our working muscle cells to be used as energy.
How often should I exercise if I have diabetes? It is recommended that individuals with diabetes engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, spread out over at least three days. Resistance training should also be included at least twice a week.
Are there any exercises that I should avoid if I have diabetes? It is important to avoid exercises that may cause injury or strain, such as heavy lifting or high-impact activities. Additionally, individuals with diabetes may need to be cautious with exercises that can cause changes in blood pressure, such as hot yoga or exercises that involve rapid changes in position.
Can exercise replace medication for managing diabetes? While exercise can be a powerful tool in managing blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of complications associated with diabetes, it is important to note that medication prescribed by a healthcare provider may still be necessary for some individuals. It is important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for you.