The Science Behind Staying Active
Regular physical activity is essential to managing diabetes.1 Not only does it help your body use insulin more effectively — but the blood sugar-lowering benefits can last for hours after a workout.
Do you know the two types of exercise and why they’re both important? Read on to find out.
Also known as cardio, aerobic exercise uses oxygen to generate energy. It includes moderate-intensity activities that get your heart and breathing rate going — such as brisk walking, jogging or swimming.
During aerobic exercise, your body uses glucose from your blood as fuel. This means that 30 or more minutes of aerobic activity lowers blood sugar.
Who can do it? Everyone medically able should engage in aerobic exercise.
How to do it? The great thing about aerobic exercise is you can do it anywhere. Remember: finding activities you enjoy is key to sticking with your exercise plan.
Aerobic Exercise Tips:
- Figure out if you need to reduce your typical insulin dose before aerobic exercise. Everyone is different.
- Know the signs of low blood sugar. If you’ll be exercising for more than 30 minutes, your risk is higher.
- Have fast-acting carbs on hand if your blood sugar gets too low while exercising.
Sometimes called resistance training, anaerobic exercise uses stored glycogen to fuel your body. It includes more intense activities that can only be maintained for short periods — such as weightlifting.
Who can do it? For beginners, it can help to find a gym class or certified personal trainer to help you develop a routine and learn proper form.
How to do it? You can work out with gym equipment like resistance machines or free weights. However, you can also get a great anaerobic workout at home with exercises like pushups or squats.
Aerobic Exercise Tips:
- Work with your doctor to figure out how much to adjust your insulin. Intense activity can actually raise blood sugar.2
- Test often. Blood glucose can rise fast if you’re exercising at a high intensity.
- Check blood sugar after working out. Levels can rise for up to an hour after intense activity.3
You Need Both
Both aerobic and anaerobic activity are important to your health. Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two or three sessions of anaerobic exercise per week.4
Balancing exercise, insulin, and carb intake may take a bit of trial and error. But don’t be discouraged! It gets easier. And when you work with your healthcare team, you can find the right balance to get the most out of staying active.