By Shree Mukilan Pari
According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in three adults in the United States has prediabetes. More concerning than this alarming figure is that nine out of ten don’t even realize they are on track to develop full-blown Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications, including heart disease, strokes, blindness and even amputations. So, if you believe you may be at risk, it’s time to act.
Fortunately, prediabetes is reversible and even type 2 diabetes can often be effectively managed through diet and exercise. Here are four simple exercise tips to prevent and manage the condition.
1. Be Proactive
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not looking after your health until a crisis forces you to take action. If you’ve found this blog post, that means you’re already on the right track.
“Even if your doctor has not told you you’re at risk of developing diabetes, it’s important to develop an exercise routine to keep you on the right track.” — Shree Mukilan Pari
Just 15-20 minutes of physical activity a day can help to control glucose levels and combat your risk of cardiovascular disease. If you don’t know where to start, consider scheduling a few sessions with a personal trainer who can tailor a program to your needs and goals.
2. Be Consistent
Even once your diabetes or prediabetes is under control, you should not stop exercising. Staying active is a life-long commitment you need to make to yourself and your body. You can encourage yourself to keep in shape by developing a routine and sticking to it.
Remember, over-committing is as bad as under-committing – if you set unrealistic goals for your exercise you may become demoralized and lose motivation to workout.
If you find yourself struggling to stick to your workout plans, mix things up a little. No one wants to do the same moves every session. Swap squats for tennis or your time on the treadmill for a HIIT class. Studies have also shown that working out in a group or with a partner can dramatically increase time spent exercising.
3. Build Your Muscle
Research from the Mayo Clinic has shown that by increasing their overall muscle mass, people with prediabetes can reduce their likelihood of developing diabetes by 32 percent. In part, this is because your muscles can burn sugar without utilizing insulin, in turn decreasing the pressure on the pancreas.
For best results, incorporate several strength-training sessions into your workout week on non-consecutive days. Where possible, combine weights with aerobic exercise, such as jogging or cycling, as studies show that this results in more significant improvements to blood sugar levels.
4. Monitor Your Blood Glucose
To determine how effective your exercise routine is at lowering your blood glucose levels, it’s important to take readings right before and after working out, particularly if you’re already on insulin. By tracking results, you can rejig parts of your exercise routine as needed to maximum results. Keeping a record will also give you data you can share with your doctor if any concerns arise.
Receiving a diabetes or prediabetes diagnosis can be alarming, but by observing the four steps above, you can start to manage and even potentially reverse the condition.
Shree Mukilan Pari is an aspiring medical student who’s passionate about improving the quality of life of those less fortunate among us.