Why must I exercise with type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes is a preventable lifestyle disease that affects millions of Americans and people around the world. It is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s important source of fuel.” This can have a severe impact on your lifestyle and induce some important changes.

Additionally, while we know the benefits of exercise prior to the onset of Type 2 diabetes, due to the metabolic changes there are some specific considerations to be taken once Type 2 diabetes has occurred. As stated by the Mayo Clinic, “With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level.”

This means that your energy intake or how we eat will change as our body cannot process macronutrients and other compounds such as sugar and glucose in the same way.

First and foremost, we must recognize the importance of continuing to exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle even though Type 2 diabetes has occurred.

“For decades, exercise has been considered a cornerstone of diabetes management…”

According to the American Diabetes Association, “For decades, exercise has been considered a cornerstone of diabetes management, along with diet and medication.”. Exercise has immense benefits on the production and health of all of our body’s various systems, however the hormones and insulin-processing components can be positively affected by exercise.

In terms of creating an effective exercise plan, a few considerations must be made to ensure results. According to a joint statement from the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Sport Medicine, “Several factors influence exercise fuel use, but the most important are the intensity and duration of PA”. (PA standing for physical activity.) A good exercise session must not only be of a quality duration but a high intensity.

Secondly, the style or modality of exercise used is important. Most people may have a preference of the type of exercise they enjoy, which may range from cardiovascular activities like running and biking to more anaerobic exercise such as resistance training. The joint statement from the parties found that “A combination of aerobic and resistance exercise training may be more effective in improving BG control than either alone” (BG standing for blood glucose.)

This means that any exercise program should use a variety of exercise options to create a well-balanced plan. Possible options might be alternating days, utilizing interval workouts or circuits, and for those who are more experienced possibly options such as HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training).

Finally, as with any serious undertaking, it is best to consult a professional. Whether it is a personal trainer, coach or even someone just to hold you accountable to your goals, it is vital to seek out help when beginning a new exercise program. The joint statement from the ADA and ACSM confirms this, with research showing that “Individuals with type 2 diabetes engaged in supervised training exhibit greater compliance and BG control than those undertaking exercise training without supervision.”

Conclusion on exercise with type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that affects many people. It is vitally important to exercise even with this condition, however there are certain factors that help to improve the results from an exercise plan.

First, always consult with a professional.

Second, utilize a blended program or aerobic and anaerobic interventions such as running and biking in conjunction with resistance training.

Finally, consistency and accountability are key to long term success. Consult a medical professional and begin your exercise plan today and live healthy!