Five Workouts to Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Five Workouts to Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Five Workouts to Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Regular exercise is a crucial element in managing type 2 diabetes and enhancing your lifestyle. Being physically active can help you manage your blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. It’s important to find workouts that not only help you maintain control of your blood glucose, but also fit seamlessly into your lifestyle. Here are four types of exercises that can be included in your exercise program to help manage type 2 diabetes safely and effectively.

It’s important to note that before starting any new exercise regimen, it should be medically reviewed to ensure it’s suitable for your current health status. It’s also essential to monitor your blood sugar levels before, during, and after your workout to prevent hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Also, proper diet and exercise go hand in hand when managing your blood sugar levels and overall health.

Importance of Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes

Exercise plays a pivotal role in managing type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity can help control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, a common concern for adults with type 2 diabetes. Exercise aids in glucose control by making your body more sensitive to insulin, allowing your cells to use the available sugar more efficiently.

Besides the physiological benefits, exercise also helps reduce stress levels. It’s well-known that stress can raise your blood sugar levels, making it harder for you to manage your diabetes. Regular exercise can help keep your stress levels in check, contributing to better diabetes management. Depending on your preferences and physical condition, you can choose from various low-impact exercises such as walking, yoga, and strength training.

5 Exercises to help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

The following exercises can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition. These exercises are not only beneficial for blood glucose control, but they also help build strength, enhance cardiovascular health, and improve overall well-being. Make sure to start slow and gradually increase the intensity to avoid risk of injury.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is one of the most beneficial workouts for managing type 2 diabetes. It not only helps regulate blood sugar levels, but also improves heart rate and blood flow. Regular aerobic exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease, a common complication of diabetes. Additionally, it can help alleviate symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, a common type of diabetic neuropathy. Studies suggest that adults with type 2 diabetes should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming every week.

How to do it

Start your aerobic workout with a warm-up session of about 10 minutes. You can then gradually increase the intensity of your exercise. For instance, if you’re walking, start with a slow pace and then gradually move to brisk walking. Since safety is paramount, be sure to wear comfortable footwear and clothing. It’s crucial to monitor your heart rate during the exercise and ensure it’s within the recommended range. Always finish your workout session with a cool-down period of about 5 minutes to help your body recover.

If you’re new to aerobic exercise, start with 10 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily and gradually increase the duration and intensity. It’s crucial to listen to your body and adjust your workout routine accordingly. Remember, the goal is to be physically active most days of the week, but it’s okay to take a rest day if you need it. Always hydrate well before, during, and after your workout to prevent dehydration, which can affect your blood glucose levels.


Yoga, a mind-body exercise, is not just a form of physical workout but also a method of stress reduction. This technique is beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes as it helps in managing the endocrinology and metabolism system of the body. It is a comprehensive approach to health that combines postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.

How to do it

To start with yoga, find a quiet, well-ventilated spot in your home. Begin with simple poses like the Mountain Pose, Downward Dog, or the Tree Pose. Hold each pose for a few breaths before slowly transitioning to the next one. Ensure to incorporate deep, mindful breathing as it helps in stress reduction.

Gradually increase the complexity of the poses and the time spent on each session. Remember to listen to your body and avoid any pose that causes discomfort. Regular yoga practice can have a positive impact on your endocrinology and metabolism, aiding in better management of type 2 diabetes.


Walking is a simple, low-impact exercise that can help manage type 2 diabetes. It’s a great way to introduce more movement into your lifestyle without needing any special equipment or gym membership. Just a good pair of shoes and determination to stay healthy is all you need.

How to do it

Start with a short, 10-minute walk around your neighborhood or a local park. Maintain a brisk pace, but ensure that you are still able to carry on a conversation. This ensures that you’re not pushing yourself too hard. Gradually increase the duration of your walks as your endurance builds up.

Try to incorporate walking into your daily routine. This could be walking to a nearby store instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or even walking during your lunch break. These small changes can add up to a significant increase in physical activity, helping better manage your type 2 diabetes.

Strength Training

Strength training is a beneficial exercise for older adults living with type 2 diabetes. It’s known to counterbalance the decline in muscle strength and function that often accompanies diabetes. Furthermore, it becomes even more crucial for those over 50 due to the increased risk of bone and joint issues, as stated by the Mayo Clinic. Strength training improves body composition by increasing muscle mass, which can also promote insulin sensitivity, crucial for blood sugar control.

How to do it

Resistance training, another term for strength training, can be performed using various tools. One option is free weights, such as dumbbells or barbells. Resistance bands can also be an excellent choice, providing a versatile and portable solution for your training sessions. The advantage of these forms of resistance exercises is that they can be adjusted to fit your current level of strength and gradually increased as your muscle mass grows.

Alternatively, you can utilize your body weight for strength training. This method provides a convenient way for those who don’t have access to weights or bands. Regardless of the tools used, the ultimate goal is to improve muscle function and insulin sensitivity, contributing to better management of type 2 diabetes. Remember, any form of exercise may help improve your cardiovascular health and mental health, making strength training a valuable addition to your lifestyle.

Interval or Circuit Training

Interval or circuit training is another beneficial workout for managing type 2 diabetes. This form of exercise involves a series of varied exercises, punctuated by rest periods. Interval training can improve overall type 2 diabetes management, increase endurance, and enhance cardiovascular fitness. It’s particularly helpful for older adults, as it can help reverse age-related changes and reduce the risk of falling, a common concern for this age group.

How to do it

When starting with interval training, the American Diabetes Association suggests a moderate-intensity workout. This could involve a circuit of exercises that utilize light weights with high repetitions. For those new to this form of exercise, focusing on lower intensity workouts is a good starting point. Over time, as your endurance and strength increase, you can gradually raise the intensity of your training sessions.

Consistent practice is key to reaping the benefits of interval training. Try aiming for a routine of 16 weeks or more, adjusting and varying your exercises as you progress. Ultimately, the goal is to improve your type 2 diabetes management while building strength and endurance. Remember, every step you take towards a more active lifestyle is a step towards healthier living with diabetes.

Summing Up

Managing type 2 diabetes requires a comprehensive approach and regular physical activity plays a crucial role in it. A well-structured exercise routine can help in maintaining a healthy body mass index and in reducing A1C levels. Studies by Colberg SR, Sigal RJ, and others have shown that a combination of aerobic exercise, yoga, walking, strength training, and interval or circuit training can effectively manage type 2 diabetes. These workouts, especially when complemented with balance training, can significantly improve cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes.

Women with type 2 diabetes, in particular, can benefit from an intensive lifestyle intervention that includes a regular workout regimen. The Department of Health and Human in the United States has provided physical activity guidelines to facilitate healthy living among individuals with type 2 diabetes. It is also important to stay adequately hydrated while performing these exercises. As per controlled trials, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight can aid in managing type 2 diabetes effectively. Hence, it is worthwhile to incorporate these workouts into your daily routine for a healthier and better lifestyle.

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