How Good is Physical Activity for Type 2 Diabetes?
If you have Type 2 Diabetes, have you ever considered what type of exercise is best for your blood glucose levels? The good news is that there is now evidence to suggest that both aerobic exercise training e.g. walking and resistance exercise training i.e. strength training, lead to improvements in blood glucose control. The study published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise also found that a combination of aerobic and resistance training is even better and resulted in greater improvements!
How Does Exercise Help Us?
Including regular physical activity is one of the foundations of good health for people living with diabetes, according to the Harvard Medical School. Regular physical activity lowers blood glucose levels and boosts your body’s sensitivity to insulin, countering insulin resistance.
Here are some more health benefits that regular physical activity provides:
- Helps control weight loss for diabetes
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves heart health - lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides ( a bad blood fat), raises healthy HDL (good cholesterol) cholesterol. The research at Harvard Medical School also found that with diabetes who walked at least two hours a week were less likely to die of heart disease than those who were sedentary. Those who exercised three to four hours a week cut their risk even more.
- Strengthens muscles and bones, especially important as we age when we are more at risk of losing balance and falling
- Mental health - reduces anxiety and improves general wellbeing.
How Much Exercise Do I Need to do?
The amount of physical activity that’s right for you all depends on your current level of health and level of fitness. It’s recommended that you aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on ‘most’ days of the week, in addition to your usual daily activities.
What Type of Exercise Should I be Doing?
The research suggests that a combination of both aerobic and resistance exercise training is best for optimal diabetes management. However, what type of aerobic and resistance training you choose depends on what you enjoy and what is realistic. For example, aerobic exercise includes: walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, ball sports and swimming. Resistance training includes weights and also therabands.
Exercise is Important for Type 2 and Type 1 Diabetes
No matter if you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, a great place to start is to speak to your GP or an accredited exercise physiologist for personalised advice if you are not sure what type of exercise is safe or suitable for you.
If you liked this post and want to learn more about exercise, then head to our article: The Ultimate Guide to Exercise for Diabetes.