More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and 90-95% of people with the disease have type 2 diabetes. Although type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over the age of 45, nowadays, children, teens, and young adults are also starting to develop it.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cells cannot normally respond to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Factors associated with the development of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Obesity
  • Prediabetes
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Others: ↑blood pressure, ↑LDL cholesterol, ↓HDL

Managing Diabetes:

For some people, the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is a turning point that provides them with the opportunity to examine how to take charge over their health. Some even approach it with a complete set of lifestyle modifications

  • Altering old eating habits and adopting new healthy ones
  • Paying proper attention to physical activity
  • Practicing positive thinking and well-being enhancement strategies

Nutrition:

Weight loss is a useful goal to improve blood glucose control. Another critical element is to manage blood glucose by providing the right balance of dietary macronutrients.

***Fiber intake: Fruits, vegetables, oats, beans…Dietary fibers should also be included in a meal plan for anyone with diabetes. The benefits associated with nutritional fiber consumption:

  1. assist in moving waste food out of the body
  2. help with feeling full after a meal.

For a diabetic person, fiber may reduce both blood glucose and cholesterol levels and slow digestion of carbohydrates to glucose.

The target intake is 20-25 grams of fiber per day.

Physical Activity:

Exercise has been shown to play an essential role in preventing and managing diabetes. Exercise physiologists and other health care providers can prescribe exercise regimens for type 2 diabetes patients. Thus, exercise, in conjunction with medication treatment, or even just exercise alone, can assist in preventing health complications associated with diabetes.

Exercise = Control Blood Glucose

  • reduces blood pressure
  • reduces cholesterol levels
  • reduces medication needed

*** Being active significantly improves insulin action. Being active substantially enhances insulin action and decreases the amount of insulin needed for the body to lower blood glucose levels.

Some medical conditions associated with diabetes can also determine the choice of exercise, for example, diabetic retinopathy, peripheral neuropathy, and neuropathy. If the latter is present, certain activities should be avoided to prevent further damage. Thus, in general, medical clearance is desired before starting any exercise program- specifically if an individual has not been regularly active. It is vital that the patient first consults with his or her health care provider to develop a plan of action based on the type of diabetes as well as the medications being taken before starting any exercise program.

Almost any activity done during the day at the length of 30-45 minutes can contribute to an individual’s health. However, a recent approach to training found that simply breaking up physical activities to 5-10 minutes also counts toward one’s daily exercise goal (gardening, stairs climbing, moderate walking). A complete training program for diabetic individuals should include aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and balance exercises.

Aerobics:

Weight-bearing activities include walking, jogging, biking, tennis, and basketball. Non-weight-bearing or low impact activities include chair exercises, water aerobics, and recumbent biking.

Aerobic recommendations for persons with type 2 diabetes:

  • Duration: minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous-intensity activity (may depend on the individual’s starting level)
  • Frequency: 3 to 7 days a week
  • Type: focus on large-muscle group activities, such as walking, biking, dancing, and water aerobics
  • Intensity: moderate to high

Resistance Training:

The combination of aerobic training and resistance exercise has been shown to optimize glucose levels and further assist in managing diabetes. The goal is to enhance muscular fitness; with that in mind, a practical resistance training routine for persons with diabetes should be integrated within an environment of safety precautions Example of a full-body resistance training workout:

  • Hips and legs- leg press (machine), lunge, squat, dumbbells step up, knee extension
  • Chest – chest press, push-ups, butterfly machine
  • Back- pulldown machine, seated row machine
  • Shoulders- dumbbells lateral raise
  • Arms- biceps curl, band triceps extension
  • Low back- bridge
  • Abdominal – curl up, diagonal curl up

Resistance exercise recommendations for persons with type 2 diabetes:

  • Duration: 8-15 repetitions per exercise, 8-10 different activities, 2-3 sets in each exercise
  • Frequency: 2 to 3 days a week
  • Type: machines and free weights
  • Intensity: low – moderate-vigorous

Flexibility:

Flexibility recommendations for persons with type 2 diabetes:

  • Duration: 10-30 seconds per stretch (static and dynamic)
  • Frequency: 2 to 3 days a week
  • Type: 4-5 stretches (upper and lower body)
  • Intensity: no pain- stretch to the point that the individual can