Workout moves you pant and grunt to in an effort to control diabetes don’t differ from those that nudge high cholesterol and blood pressure down. But there are ways to train smarter to better stabilize blood-sugar levels, says Old Dominion University Exercise Science Professor Sheri Colberg-Ochs, PhD, who chaired an ADA/ACSM joint report on Type 2 diabetes and exercise.
Because people with diabetes generally have lower fitness levels than people without, the American Diabetes Association recommends shooting for 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise (think biking, swimming, walking) weekly, without skipping more than two consecutive days. Here, Colberg-Ochs reveals three ways to maximize training and step up diabetes management. Consult your doctor before starting any fitness regimen, especially if you’ve ever had a heart condition.
Mini Workouts Outdo Mighty: Studies have shown that dividing daily exercise into three short sessions is as effective for blood-sugar management as cramming in one long workout. Instead of taking one 30-minute walk, try squeezing three 10-minute ambles into your day. Bonus: Taking the arm-swingers after meals boosts benefits. Exercising slows food digestion and also torches some blood sugar, thereby preventing it from spiking as high as it otherwise might.
Pick Up Kix: When you’re kicking off some aerobic exercise at a comfortable pace, sandwich in short intervals at faster speeds to rev up glucose-burning ability. For starters, time intervals at just five to 10 seconds so your body can adapt to working a trickle harder. Over time, as you can more readily do the intervals, lengthen them to between 30 and 60 seconds and slip a few more into each workout.
Muscle Mania: Whether you’re lifting hand weights, canned goods from the cupboard, or pulling at bands on machines at the gym—doing 15 to 30 minutes of resistance training at least two days a week can prevent you from losing muscle mass as you age and enhance your glucose management by giving your body a bigger storage depot for the carbs you eat. Vary the targets of these exercises to pinpoint your core as well as your upper and lower body. Bonus: Find examples of resistance exercises in printable PDF formats here, and, get moving!