Gotta get your blood sugar under control? Get moving! Your muscle cells are the biggest user of glucose in the body, so it makes sense to use your muscles to help control your blood sugar.
Plus, exercise increases your energy, helps you reach or stay at a healthy weight and improves your heart health by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides, raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering high blood pressure.
Exercise also helps you sleep better and reduces stress, both of which help control blood sugar. And last but certainly not least, losing weight and controlling your blood sugar may help you get off or stay off diabetes medications.
Use a pedometer to log your daily steps. Gradually increase your step count, working toward a goal of 10,000 steps each day.
Hit the Road
One of the best ways to get more active is by walking. “Walking is achievable, under your control and you don’t need a gym or a class to do it in,” says Peggy Doyle, RD, LD, a certified diabetes educator and outpatient dietitian at Cleveland Clinic’s Fairview Hospital Wellness Center.
Start off simply, she advises, to establish the habit: Pick two or three days a week to go for a 10-minute walk. Once you’re in the groove, start to increase the duration and frequency. Aim to walk at least 30 minutes on five or more days a week. Pressed for time? You can break your daily dose into smaller chunks, like three 10-minute intervals.
Walking is also a cost-effective form of exercise. All you need are a good pair of shoes and socks, which are especially important when you have diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar can impair circulation and nerve function, making your feet prone to slow-healing sores that can become infected. So before you lace up those shoes, do a once-over on your feet to check for any problems, and see your doctor if you spot anything suspicious.
Get Active About Your Health
If you’re not a fan of walking, any activity that gets you moving and breathing a little hard will do. Consider activities you like, advises Doyle, so that you stick with it. Square dancing, gardening, biking and swimming all do the trick. The key is to start doing them more regularly, and then find ways to make them a bit more physically rigorous. For instance, if you play golf, walk the links instead of driving a cart and carry your own clubs.
Try to work resistance training (using weights or resistance bands) into your routine twice a week to build and strengthen muscles. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, resistance training improves insulin sensitivity as effectively as aerobic activity.