Why Walking Is Not Enough When Trying to Control Diabetes?

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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes or any other ailment, for that matter, your doctor has most likely asked you to start eating healthy and exercising.

Exercise helps you lose weight or keep it in check, lowers blood pressure, lowers harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raises healthy HDL cholesterol, strengthens muscles and bones, reduces anxiety, and improves your general well-being.


But, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, the added benefits of exercising will include lower blood glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity, countering insulin resistance.

There are several studies that have highlighted the positive effects that exercise has on people with diabetes:

  1. A study found that exercise helped lower HbA1c values by 0.7% in people with diabetes who were on different medications and following various diets—and this improvement occurred even though they didn’t lose any weight.
  2. All forms of exercise—aerobic (cardio), resistance, or combined training (doing both)—have been found to be equally good at lowering HbA1c values in people with diabetes.
  3. Another study found that combining resistance training (or strength training) and aerobic exercise helped lower insulin resistance in sedentary older adults with abdominal obesity who are at a risk for diabetes. Combining the two types of exercise proved more beneficial than doing either one alone.
  4. It was also found that people with diabetes who walked at least two hours a week were less likely to die of heart disease than their sedentary counterparts. Those who walked three to four hours a week cut their risk even more.
  5. Studies also suggested that women with diabetes who spent at least four hours per week doing moderate exercise (including walking) or vigorous exercise had a 40% lower risk of developing heart disease than those who didn’t exercise.

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The guidelines

If you have diabetes, the general guidelines are:

  1. The best time to exercise is one to three hours after eating when your blood sugar level is likely to increase.
  2. If you’re on insulin, you must be sure to test your blood sugar before exercising. If your blood sugar levels before exercise are below 100 mg/dL, eat a piece of fruit or have a small snack to help boost your blood sugar levels and avoid hypoglycemia. Test your blood sugar levels again after 30 minutes to see if your blood sugar level is stable enough for you to start exercising.
  3. You should also check your blood sugar levels after a particularly grueling workout or activity.
  4. Also, if you’re on insulin, your risk of developing hypoglycemia may be highest 6 to 12 hours after exercising.
  5. And, if your blood sugar is too high (over 250), it is best to avoid exercising since a workout can sometimes raise your blood sugar levels even higher.

What Type of Exercise Should People With Diabetes Do?

Ideally, if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should mix aerobic training (cardio) and strength training.

It is recommended that a person do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises per week of cardio or 60 minutes of high-intensity exercises per week. Your workout regimen should be interspersed with two to three days of strength and resistance training targeting all the major muscle groups.

It’s very common to hear people say that cardio only burns fat and strength training only builds muscle. In reality, both forms of exercise have several benefits, and it is recommended that everyone (no matter their age, gender, or fitness goals) should do both regularly in some form.

How do cardio and strength training differ?

Cardio Strength training
Definition Benefits Examples Definition Benefits Examples
Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise and refers to endurance exercise Strengthens your body’s circulatory system, which is your heart and blood vessels Running, cycling, dancing, and certain sports like tennis Strength training is a form of exercise that uses resistance to contract muscles, helping Increase strength, boost anaerobic endurance and build skeletal muscles Weight training, pilates, yoga, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups.

Let’s talk about walking

Walking is a great form of exercise and has several benefits. But, only walking may not be exactly what the doctor ordered.

That’s because walking every day sets your body in a pattern that it quickly gets used to, slowing down the benefits you might see, like weight loss and better endurance.

It also works on only your cardiovascular system and not on the muscles of your body. Therefore, adding strength training to your workout regimen can help give you better results.

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Wondering how strength training helps? Here are some benefits:

  • Increased muscle mass: Your muscle mass could decrease with age, and strength training helps reverse that. Increased muscle mass also helps you burn fat throughout the day, which, as opposed to only cardiovascular only burns fat when you’re exercising.
  • Stronger bones: Strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures — which is especially important for women.
  • Improves joint flexibility: Strength training helps your joints stay flexible and can reduce the symptoms of arthritis
  • Helps you lose weight: As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more easily, making it easier to control your weight or lose weight.
  • Improves balance: Strength training also helps joint flexibility and improve balance, which helps reduce falls and injuries.

If all this has you inspired to start strength training, here are some tips to get you started at home:

  • Always remember to warm-up before you start working out.
  • Start your regimen with lighter weights and slowly increase the weight as you start feeling stronger and as advised by your coach.
  • Rest for at least 60 seconds in between sets, unless otherwise recommended by your coach.
  • Initially, limit your workout to no longer than 45 minutes.
  • Remember to gently stretch your muscles after your workout
  • Always have a day or two to rest between workouts.

But, there’s one more thing you need to consider before you revamp your fitness regimen to include strength training — consulting a trained expert, like a physiotherapist.

Here’s why:

  • A physiotherapist can help you in several ways, including; preventing injuries, early fatigue or burn-out, and can even help you get better results (compared to starting an exercise regimen that’s not monitored). This is especially true if you’ve never exercised before or are restarting your exercise routine after a long break.
  • They will also be able to assess your initial or starting fitness level and recommend exercises accordingly. Gently guiding you through the process as you get stronger and fitter.
  • A physiotherapist will also be well versed with any injuries you might sustain while performing certain exercises and can, therefore, course-correct throughout your journey.
  • As you get stronger and fitter, your physiotherapist acts as a sounding board for any concerns you might have concerning your workout regimen.
  • They will also track your progress on a scientific basis and guide you if you aren’t achieving the required results or experiencing any kind of discomfort.

So, if you want to get your blood sugars in control and live well with diabetes, we’d like to introduce you to the Fitterfly  diabetes management program that’s designed and run by experts.

The Fitterfly diabetes management program correlates your blood sugar readings with your diet and lifestyle, allowing your care team (which includes a nutritionist, physiotherapist and psychologist) to understand the exact causes of your blood sugar fluctuations (Personalized Glycemic Response ).

Based on these insights, your team gives you personalized recommendations on diet, exercise, sleep and stress all of which help you in living a healthy, diabetes worry-free life!

To know more about how the Fitterfly  diabetes management program can help you smartly take control of your blood sugars, sign up for the Fitterfly  diabetes management program, or speak to one of our Product Advisors on 08069450746.

- By Fitterfly Health-Team