Aerobic Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes

Why Exercising with Diabetes Matters

It's no surprise that exercise—especially aerobic exercise—is essential in managing type 2 diabetes. But how much exercise should you get? And what kind of exercise should you do? Are there exercises that are more beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes?

While it's important to incorporate the 3 main types of exercise—aerobic, strength training, and flexibility—into an exercise program, aerobic exercise is incredibly beneficial for helping control diabetes.

Aerobic exercise is fantastic for your heart and for managing blood glucose levels. Regular aerobic exercise can also lead to weight loss (if that's what you need).

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse recommends that you get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week to get the most benefits.1

Exercise has much more to offer than just getting your blood moving and your heart pumping. Below are some other benefits of aerobic exercise for people with diabetes.

  • Decreases your body fat, including harmful visceral (belly) fat
  • Helps ward off diabetes complications, such as heart disease and kidney problems
  • Helps you lose weight—and keep it off
  • Increase your energy and mood
  • Keeps your heart and bones healthy and your joints strong
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces bad cholesterol levels and improves good cholesterol levels

Learn more about why exercise is such a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle with diabetes in our article about the benefits of exercise.

Aerobic Exercise for a Healthy Lifestyle
Incorporating aerobic exercise into your schedule takes a bit of planning, but there are numerous ways to fit it into your daily life. You can pop in a workout DVD before going to work in the morning or go for a brisk after-dinner walk, for example.

Fortunately, you don't need a gym membership or fancy exercise equipment to get the benefits of exercise. Also, exercise doesn't have to be so boring. To make it more enjoyable—and to help you stay stick with it—you can exercise with a friend or load some upbeat music to your iPod.

Here are some other ideas for how to incorporate aerobic exercise into your life:

  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Join a dance class.
  • Play your favorite sport—whether it's tennis, baseball, or basketball.
  • Swim laps at your local pool.
  • Take a brisk walk around your neighborhood.

Before You Begin an Exercise Program
If you've never exercised before—or can't remember the last time you did—start off very slowly. Walking for 10 minutes a day is better than not walking at all. Over time, you can work up to 30-minute workout sessions.

Also, before you start exercising on a consistent basis, talk to your doctor. Having a conversation with your doctor is especially important if you're overweight or have other health conditions, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. He or she can recommend specific exercise routines or develop a workout plan that suits your needs.

Aerobic exercise—or any exercise for that matter—can sometimes be hard to stick with. Read our article on how to fit exercise into your daily life when you have diabetes.

Updated on: April 18, 2011