By: Erin McKenna RDN, CDN

Exercise is very important for diabetes management and for delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. Making exercise a part of your lifestyle will help improve blood sugar levels and reduce complications from diabetes.

Physical activity helps to fight diabetes by helping your body use insulin more effectively, lowers blood sugar levels and improves protein and fat metabolism. It also increases blood circulation to all organs, especially your brain, kidneys, heart and eyes. These organs can be harmed by poor diabetes management. Exercise also reduces stress, decreases LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and helps with controlling weight. The most recent recommendation from the American Diabetes Association calls for three or more minutes of light activity such as walking, leg extensions or arm stretches every 30 minutes during long periods of sedentary activities for improving blood sugar levels.

There are many different types of physical activity you can start doing today, including:

  • Continuous activity such as walking or using the stairs
  • Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, swimming or dancing
  • Strength training such as lifting light weights
  • Stretching and flexibility exercises

So you may be wondering, how do I get started?

Choose one or two things you’d like to try. Then set a SMART goal (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time sensitive). For example, I want to go for a walk outside for 20 minutes, after dinner twice per week, specifically on Monday and Wednesday. I would also like to try doing a yoga tape on Thursday mornings before work, for about 30 minutes.

Figure out what exercises you enjoy and how you can incorporate them into your life. It’s a good idea to keep records of what you are doing so you can track your progress. Having a good support system is also important. If you like walking, try to find a walking buddy or maybe join a group exercise class.

Find what works for you and get moving!

Erin McKenna RDN, CDN Erin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who is currently working with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients.  She works with patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.