Is Your Diabetes Care Plan Missing These 4 Things?

woman with weights

Food, food, food! People with diabetes hear about diet, nutrition and meal plans all the time. What you eat and how you eat is vitally important to controlling diabetes. But physical activity is just as beneficial as diet for people with diabetes.

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Why Get Off The Couch?

Physical activity helps to reverse what causes type 2 diabetes in the first place, which is insulin resistance. When you have insulin resistance your body may be making plenty of insulin, but the insulin is unable to do its job properly. Engaging in physical activity every day will improve your body’s ability to use insulin, which might allow you to avoid medication or decrease the amount of medication you need.

Regular physical activity will also lower your blood glucose (blood sugar), blood pressure, and bad cholesterol, while increasing your good cholesterol. It lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke – both of which are disease risk among people with diabetes. It keeps your heart and bones strong and your joints flexible. You will have more energy, less stress and a clearer mind. And, if you work it right, you may lose weight and body fat as well.


What Kinds Of Activities Should You Include?

Four kinds of physical activity can help – aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, and being extra active every day. You should try to get a little of each into your weekly exercise plan.

1. Aerobic Exercise

Exercise experts recommend that you do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day, most days of the week. Some ways to get aerobic exercise include; walking briskly, swimming or water aerobics, dancing or taking a dance aerobics class such as zumba.

2. Strength Training

You should aim to do strength training two to three times a week. If you can’t make it to a gym to use weight machines, you can do weight workouts at home with dumbbells, elastic exercise bands, weighted balls or even using your own body weight as resistance.

3. Stretching

Stretching increases muscle and joint flexibility and range of motion so you can move your joints and limbs fully. Some formal types of exercises that focus on flexibility include yoga, tai chi and Pilates, but you can find simple ways to fit stretching into your daily routine. Touch your toes 10 times before you get out of bed, really reach for the items on the top shelf of the cabinet, lunge into each stroke with the mop.

READ:  Do This One Move…Lower Your Diabetes Risk

4. Extra Activity

Being extra active every day is a simple matter of moving more as you go about your daily task. Walk instead of drive, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the store, or walk the kids home from school. Add 15 minutes of activity to your daily routine and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes.

The key to fitting in physical activity is to make it something enjoyable and fun – something you’re going to look forward to doing. If you carefully choose activities that fit your schedule and your temperament, you might be surprised at how easy it is to add it to your diabetes management plan.


Visit the Living with Diabetes center for more articles and tips. 


Constance Brown-RiggsConstance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, is an award winning registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and past spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is the author of The African American Guide To Living Well With Diabetes and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes. Learn more about her work at and follow her on Twitter @eatingsoulfully