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Best Exercises for Glucose Control

Leslie Juarez, HC
August 17, 2023
December 18, 2023

The health benefits of exercise have been established for a very long time. Exercise is a great way to help improve cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and improve blood sugar regulation. There are many options, but which exercise is the best?

Let’s review the different types of exercises recommended for diabetes:

Resistance Training

Resistance training is also known as strength training. It is recommended to do strength exercises 2-3 days per week. Exercises should not be hard, but should feel a little challenging.

Options for strength exercises include:

  • Free weights (dumbbells): Bicep curls, shoulder press, chest press, etc
  • Cable machines (usually found in gyms)
  • Resistance bands
  • Body weight exercises: Squats, lunges, push ups, sit ups, and others

You should be able to do about 8 exercises in any combination from the list, 8-12 times, and repeat 1-2 times. Listening to your body is important, and if any exercise feels too hard to do, then stop and move on to the next exercise.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is exercise that helps improve endurance. It is recommended to do aerobic exercises 3-7 days per week [6]. Endurance exercises depend on your activity level. Exercises should range from feeling “moderate” to “very hard”.

Examples of aerobic exercise include:

  • Walking or jogging  
  • Running or sprinting
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

Do at least 150 minutes per week (just 20 minutes every day). Exercises should feel “somewhat easy” to start. If the exercise feels too hard to do, stop and slow down or continue the exercise at a later time.

High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a specific type of aerobic exercise that includes a mix of moderate to vigorous exercises. This type of training can be done with less intense exercises and longer rest periods.

Examples of HIIT include:

  • Brisk walking for 2-3 minutes, followed by slow walking for 3-5 minutes, then repeating a few times
  • Jogging for 3-4 minutes, followed by walking for 4-5 minutes, then repeating a few times

Keep in mind that these are just examples and exercise should depend on your current endurance level. Please speak to your doctor before starting any high intensity exercise. It is also important to check your glucose before, during, and also after exercise.

But Most Importantly

The health benefits of exercise for people with diabetes includes better blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity. Read more about diabetes and exercise by checking out some of our other articles, too!

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