Daily Exercises to Avoid Developing Diabetes

resistance training exercise in gymnasium
Courtesy: Photo by Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com

To steer clear of getting diabetes or to improve if you already have it, you should make exercise a regular part of your week. Combining a good diet with exercise is key to success. Based on a detailed study by the American Diabetes Association, you should focus on two kinds of exercise: aerobic (like walking or biking) and resistance training (like lifting weights).

Aerobic exercise

For better blood sugar control, keeping weight in check, and lowering the chances of heart problems, the American Diabetes Association advises doing aerobic exercises. They suggest aiming for about 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. It’s best to spread this activity over at least 3 days, without going more than 2 days in a row without any exercise.

Even better is doing shorter, more intense sessions—maybe high-intensity workouts three times a week. But if you have diabetes, it’s important to get guidance from a fitness instructor.

Read More:

Resistance exercise

For those with type 2 diabetes, it’s recommended to do resistance exercises three times a week. This includes working out all your major muscle groups, gradually increasing to three sets of 8-10 repetitions with a weight that’s challenging but manageable.

These two types of exercises—aerobic and resistance—have different effects on your body. You can think of them like a long-distance runner versus a sprinter. The long-distance runner is lean, while the sprinter has more muscle. The idea is to do a bit of both because you want to burn fat, and building muscle naturally boosts your growth hormone levels, improving insulin sensitivity and helping you burn more fat.

Before you start any exercise routine, make sure to check with your doctor. Begin gently and increase intensity as you become fitter. If you join an exercise class, the instructor will guide you on how to start. The advantage of classes is that they’re usually filled with people of all fitness levels, working together to improve. They’re often very welcoming and friendly environments.

The kind of exercise matters as much as how long you do it.

If you’re doing the right mix of aerobic and resistance exercises, 20-30 minutes a day is all you need. This is good for losing weight and reversing diabetes. If you prefer to exercise five days a week, you can do 30 minutes a day with two days off. If your workouts are less intense, you might need to exercise for 30-45 minutes a day, but it’s important to gradually increase the intensity.

I suggest scheduling your exercise time in your diary, just like you would for a meeting or meeting a friend. Then, stick to it without skipping.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise includes activities like brisk walking, playing golf, swimming, biking, or joining an exercise class. The main thing is to get your heart rate up into your ‘training heart-rate zone’.

For someone who’s overweight or not very fit, just a short walk might get their heart rate up enough. But if you’re fitter and leaner, you might need to walk briskly for at least five minutes to reach that zone. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your pulse while exercising, so you don’t overdo it or do too little. Monitoring your pulse helps you get the most benefits from burning fat.

As you become fitter and leaner, you might need to push yourself more—like walking faster or adding hills to your walk—to reach your training zone.

Resistance exercise

Resistance exercise is like building muscle, but you don’t have to lift heavy weights for it! To understand why this exercise is important, let’s talk about the three types of muscle fibers: slow, fast, and super-fast.

When you do aerobic exercise, like walking or jogging, you mainly work the slow muscles. But when you push yourself in activities like sprinting, you’re working the fast or super-fast muscles. This is called ‘anaerobic‘ exercise because it goes beyond your oxygen capacity, making you huff and puff.

The cool thing is, if you do the right kind of high-intensity exercise, focusing on those super-fast muscles, you don’t need to do it for long. Just a 30-second burst of intense exercise, repeated five to eight times, three times a week, can give you great results. This makes your heart work hard, so you’ll really be out of breath by the end. It can also boost your growth hormone level, making you more sensitive to insulin and building muscle. Phil Campbell, the author of “Ready Set Go!”, is one of the pioneers of this exercise. He’s trained top athletes, but don’t worry, the principles are simple. You can learn more from YouTube videos, like the one by Dr. Joseph Mercola, who talks about a similar system called the peak 8 system.

Here’s how it works:

  • Warm up for three minutes.
  • Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds.
  • Recover for 90 seconds.
  • Repeat this cycle eight times.

But remember, you need to build up to this gradually, especially if you’re not in good shape. Start with just two or three repetitions, then add more as you get fitter. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you’re really struggling to breathe and talk, sweating, feeling hot, and getting some muscle ache. Doing this three times a week can make a big difference to your health, helping you build muscle and improve your overall fitness.

Your weekly routine

Here’s how you can plan your weekly exercise routine:

First, pick the type of exercise you enjoy, and make sure your aerobic workouts get your heart pumping into the training zone. Don’t overdo it at the beginning. If you’re very unfit or overweight, it’s a good idea to get some help from a professional.

Now, let’s plan your week:

  • Monday: Do resistance training for about 20 minutes.
  • Tuesday: Do aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes.
  • Wednesday: Back to resistance training for 20 minutes.
  • Thursday: More aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes.
  • Friday: Another session of resistance training for 20 minutes.
  • Saturday: Do aerobic exercise for about 30 minutes.
  • Sunday: Take a rest day.

If you’re working with a fitness instructor, make sure they include both aerobic and resistance training in your routine. Your goal is to exercise for at least 150 minutes each week. You can spread this out as 20-30 minutes every day or 30 minutes five times a week.

When to exercise

The best time to exercise is about two hours after eating. Animals in nature wouldn’t exercise right after eating, and there’s a reason for that. When we exercise, our bodies are getting ready to find food. If you exercise first thing in the morning, make sure you eat breakfast right after. When you eat after exercising, your muscles and liver are ready to handle the carbohydrates in your food, so your blood sugar doesn’t spike too much.

But if you take a leisurely walk after a big meal, like Sunday lunch, and then have dessert afterwards, it also helps keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Avoid exercising late at night if you can. And try to exercise in natural daylight when possible because it helps your body make vitamin D, which keeps your bones strong.

Before doing aerobic exercise, start off slowly to warm up. And before resistance exercises, warm up by walking or doing some stretches.

Boost your baseline activity.

A fantastic way to raise your overall activity level is to simply be more active in your daily life. Instead of taking the elevator, use the stairs. Try walking or biking instead of always driving. Play with your kids or pick up a sport. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to increase your fitness, and over time, this lifestyle becomes a habit.

Get fitter by taking the alternative way

The fat wayThe fit way
Take a liftUse the stairs
Use a trolley when shoppingUse a hand basket
Drive to workWalk or cycle some of the way
Drive to the shopsWalk to the shops
Spend the night watching TVTake up an active hobby
Get other people to bring you one too!Get up and do it yourself
Use powered tools for gardening or DIY workUse manual tools when it’s just as quick
Go upstairs as little as possible at homeRun upstairs as often as possible
Use automatic car washesWash the car yourself
Stick children in front of TVActively play with them
Have business meetings insideGo for a walk where possible

Holford, P. (Year of Publication). Say No to Diabetes.