Small losses, big gains
“Because most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight, meal planning and physical activity usually focus on gradual weight loss, something on the order of two to three pounds per month, ” says Paris Roach, MD, an endocrinologist with Indiana University Health and the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “Exercise is beneficial to metabolism independent of weight loss in that it lowers glucose levels and improves insulin resistance,” says Dr. Roach. Just a five to ten percent reduction from your starting weight can have significant effects on blood glucose levels. That’s good news if you haven’t broken a sweat in a while. In addition, you’ll also gain muscle strength, improve cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, balance, stamina, mood and overall good feeling. This workout normalizes blood sugar for type 2 diabetics.
Keep an eye on blood sugar
Exercise will not only help control blood sugar levels but also help you shed weight and keep your heart healthy. It’s important you keep an eye on your blood sugar because any physical activity makes you more sensitive to insulin. “When you exercise, your body becomes more efficient at using insulin and this can lower blood sugar, both during exercise and up to 24 hours after,” says Mark Heyman, clinical psychologist, certified diabetes educator, and vice-president of Clinical Operations and Innovation at One Drop, a mobile app that educates and coaches diabetics. Because blood sugar can drop dangerously low, check it before you exercise and again if you feel light-headed or weak during exercise, he says. “If your blood sugar is low (below 70mg/dl), eat 15 grams of simple carbohydrates, such as orange juice, glucose tablets or candy,” says Dr. Heyman. Here are some tricks diabetics need to know about treating low blood sugar.