Exercise for Type 2 diabetes is extremely important as it reduces insulin resistance, the root-cause of Type 2 diabetes. In this way, regular exercise helps to lower blood sugar, triglycerides, and raise HDL, the good cholesterol. Once your insulin resistance comes down, so does your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, peripheral vascular disease and cancer.
Unfortunately, many diabetics do not stick to their exercise program. Usually, they go through periods of excessive exercise followed by periods of no exercise. In this way, they go through the YoYo of exercise, similar to the YoYo of their diet program.
How Much and What Type of Exercise For Type 2 Diabetes
Exercise for Type 2 diabetes should be individualized. For example, what is appropriate exercise for a 50 year old Type 2 diabetic with no complications of diabetes may be harmful for a 70 year old with peripheral neuropathy.
In general, exercise for Type 2 diabetes should be a mixture of aerobic and stretches. The intensity and duration varies from person to person. However, most Type 2 diabetics should benefit from some stretches followed by walking 30 minutes a day. Swimming is a good alternative for those who have difficulty walking.
Best Time To Do Exercise
- After stretching, walk for about 20-30 minutes in the morning before breakfast, as well as in the evening before and after dinner, on a daily basis.
- The morning walk helps you lower your insulin resistance and blood sugar due to the Dawn Phenomenon. What is the Dawn-Phenomenon? In the early morning hours, your body produces large amounts of these hormones: growth hormone, adrenaline and cortisol. All of these hormones worsen your insulin resistance. Consequently, your blood sugar rises even before you have breakfast. This is called the Dawn Phenomenon. Getting up early in the morning and going for a walk after doing some yoga is the best way to counter the effects of the Dawn Phenomenon.
- The evening walks helps you to prevent acid-reflux in your stomach. In addition, it lowers your blood sugar the next morning.
Unsuitable Exercises For Type 2 Diabetes
- Many diabetics have peripheral neuropathy in their feet. These patients should definitely avoid jogging or running, as it will worsen their peripheral neuropathy.
- Diabetic patients with retinopathy should definitely avoid jogging as it can be harmful to their eyes.
- Intense, prolonged exercise can lower blood glucose too much, especially if you are on drugs such as Insulin, Prandin, Starlix or sulfonylurea drugs (such as Glucotrol, Amaryl, Glynase, Glipizide, Glyburide). Therefore, always carry candy while doing exercise.
- Actos (pioglitazone), and Metformin do not cause low blood sugar by themselves.
- Check your blood sugar before exercise. If your blood sugar is below 100 mg/dl, eat something before you exercise. Also check your blood sugar at the end of exercise.
Why Most Type 2 Diabetics Do Not Exercise On A Regular Basis
Most diabetics do not exercise on a regular basis because they do not have time for it. Why don’t they have any time for exercise? Because they are caught up in activities of daily life. They keep planning to exercise: One day, once they have enough time, they will start to exercise to help their diabetes. Obviously, that day never arrives. Why do most people continue to procrastinate? This is why:
The vast majority of the people are in the grip of their conditioned mind, which I call the Acquired Self. It creates the virtual world in their head, which is an offspring of the collective human virtual world. That’s why they stay lost in all of the activities of the virtual world. Most of these activities are centered around job, socialization and entertainment. Even when you have some time, say after retirement, you are likely to fill up this time with more activities of entertainment, pleasure and socialization.
How To Change Your Mindset
As a Type 2 diabetic, you know the benefits of exercise to control your blood sugars. You just need to find time for it, right? Have you ever pondered where your time goes? Take an honest look at your activities. Then, figure out what activities are necessary and what are unnecessary. For example, your job is necessary, but spending time on social media on the internet is unnecessary.
Don’t sit in front of a screen (computer or TV) for hours. Take frequent, few-minutes breaks and walk. During this time, also pay attention to your physical surroundings, without thinking. This will make you aware of the Now, in which there is no stress. Freedom from stress and exercise work together to lower your insulin resistance and blood sugar level.
Most people can free up some time for exercise if they want to. Do some exercise right now! Take a break from reading this post and go for a walk.
Excessive Exercise For Diabetics Can Be Harmful
We all know that lack of exercise is unhealthy. How about intense rigorous exercise? In my professional opinion, excessive exercise can be harmful as well, especially for diabetics.
Excess Oxidative Stress
You are probably familiar with the term, “anti-oxidants.” What are anti-oxidants? These are nutrients that help to fight off oxidative stress. What is oxidative stress? As a by-product of metabolism of food, oxygen free radicals (also called oxygen reactive species) are released inside the cell. These oxygen free radicals are toxic for the cell itself. This is what oxidative stress is. An analogy would be a factory, using coal for heat production. In addition to heat, the factory also generates smoke and other toxic gases, which are harmful for the people working in the factory as well as the rest of the planet.
Now consider this. Intense exercise revs up your metabolism. Consequently, you have excessive amounts of oxidative stress. Your factory (your cell) is in high gear producing energy. Excessive smoke in the form of oxidative stress is the natural consequence. Excessive oxidative stress due to intense exercise is very harmful for your body, although you may feel elated during this type of exercise, which is due to the release of chemicals, such as excess adrenaline and endorphins.
Intense exercise also predisposes you to all sorts of injuries: neck sprain, leg sprain, and tennis elbow are some examples. In addition, excessive use of joints, over a period of time, contributes to degenerative arthritis, which then leads to chronic pain as well as limited activity level. Consequently, your insulin resistance and diabetes worsens. Remember, your diabetes is likely to get worse with time and you are going to need your legs, especially in your golden years.
You should consult your physician before beginning an exercise plan. If you have heart disease or suspect you may have heart disease, check with your cardiologist before starting an exercise program. As a general rule, exercise should be started at a low level. Duration and intensity should be increased gradually.
Exercise is very helpful for Type 2 diabetes. However, it should be regular, a mixture of aerobic and stretches, and appropriate for your age. Avoid excessive exercise. Be the master of your mind, use common sense, and save some time every day to do some exercise which will not only help your diabetes but also your overall health.