Law of Health #2
The importance of exercise to a diabetic is second only to nutrition. The exercise you choose is up to you and your health care practitioner.
Conventional wisdom says walking is the best exercise for a diabetic, and that ideally you should walk 10,000 steps (roughly 5 miles) every day. “Normative data indicate that healthy adults typically take between 4,000 and 18,000 steps/day, and that 10,000 steps/day is reasonable.”1
“Present Truth” (a.k.a. recent studies) tells us that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be more effective for diabetics, and you can combine it with daily walking. “The interval training program appears to confer greater improvements than the continuous training program.”2
Several years ago, I went to Curves, a gym especially for women, which featured a 30-minute interval-training circuit, incorporating 30 seconds of high-intensity workout, alternating with 30 seconds of low-intensity “recovery.” I was successful in losing weight, but it was extremely hard because I was still eating a high-carb diet. Unfortunately, my work schedule became too rigid and the local Curves reduced their hours, so it was no longer possible for me to keep going. Now that I have a flexible work schedule and more time, I cannot afford a Curves membership again. Unfortunately, Curves’ popularity has declined in the last few years. But walking will never go out of style!
My Pain Physical Therapist confirmed that walking does use all the body parts, just as Ellen White stated. And while exercise, by itself, does not directly result in weight loss or lower blood sugar, over time, exercise will help decrease insulin resistance. And I have proven to myself, over and over, that the combination of daily walking and intermittent fasting definitely lowers blood glucose and insulin levels.
One warning: Do not exercise aggressively if your blood glucose is over 250 mg/dL.3 The problem is this: If your glucose is high and you are insulin resistant and your cells do not allow the insulin in, your cells will continue to signal they need glucose for fuel, and your liver will continue to put out that glucose. Without insulin sensitivity to let the glucose into the cells, the glucose keeps building up in your blood, pushing your blood glucose levels higher and higher. You can walk gently, but no aggressive exercise!
Some studies show that exercising after the evening meal is more effective than exercising before meals. “Postprandial walking may be more effective at lowering the glycemic impact of the evening meal in individuals with type 2 diabetes compared with pre-meal or no exercise and may be an effective means to blunt postprandial glycemic excursions.”4 However, any time that you exercise is beneficial to your diabetic health.
Some people find exercise causes their blood glucose to increase rather than decrease. “Why does exercise sometimes raise blood sugar? Exercise can trigger the body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline can stimulate the liver and the adrenal glands to release glucose and cortisol, which makes you more resistant to insulin. Typically, the post-exercise blood sugar spike settles down and returns to normal after an hour or two, so check again after some time if you’re able to.”5
If you are at risk for diabetes (but not yet diagnosed), you need to spend a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week (that’s equivalent to 30 minutes a day for 5 days) to decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. “A major clinical study called the Diabetes Prevention Program studied people at risk for diabetes. It showed that lifestyle changes involving 150 minutes of exercise per week decreased the risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.”6
One bonus you will enjoy from exercise is boosting brain function (cognition) from increasing blood flow to the brain. “Anything that gets your heart rate up will increase blood flow to the brain and can provide an uptick in cognition.”7
If you are mobility-challenged, there are still many exercises you can do while sitting in a chair or a wheelchair. And you can do modified versions of Tai Chi, Qigong, and Yoga while seated. If you have a YouTube account, make a playlist of exercise videos that you can do indoors. Now you will have no excuse for not exercising when it’s too hot, too cold, too smoky (from local fires), or too rainy, windy, or snowy.
What is the best exercise for you to reverse or prevent diabetes? The answer: any exercise you enjoy enough to do every single day! I once asked my doctor if I needed to exercise every day. Her response: “Are you a diabetic every day?”
Take a look at my personal collection of YouTube exercise videos. If you have a YouTube account, you might want to create your own Playlist of exercise videos! Now you will have no excuse for not exercising when it’s too hot, too cold, or too rainy.
Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics™ Recommends:
- Explore various types of exercise until you find some that you like and that will be sustainable over the long term. Vary your daily exercise (so you won’t get bored).
- If possible, join an exercise class (in person or online).
- Exercise every day for a minimum of 30 minutes.
1Tudor-Locke, Catrine, et. al. “How many steps/day are enough for adults?” Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2011; 8: 79. Published online 2011 Jul 28. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-8-79. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197470/ (accessed on 7/26/2020).
2Mitranun, W.; C. Deerochanawong; H. Tanaka; and D. Suksom. “Continuous vs interval training on glycemic control and macro- and microvascular reactivity in type 2 diabetic patients.” Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Apr;24(2):e69-76. doi: 10.1111/sms.12112. Epub 2013 Sep 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24102912 (accessed on 7/26/2020).
3Parkin, Christy, MSN, RN, CDE. “Can I Exercise With a High BG?” Diabetes Forecast, n.d.
http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2008/dec/can-i-exercise-with-a-high-bg.html (accessed on 8/31/2020).
4Colberg, Sheri R. et. al. “Postprandial walking is better for lowering the glycemic effect of dinner than pre-dinner exercise in type 2 diabetic individuals.” J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2009 Jul;10(6):394-7. doi: 10.1016/j.comedy.2009.03.015. Epub 2009 May 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19560716 (accessed on 7/26/2020).
5Johnson, Scott. “Your diabetes and high blood sugar after exercise,” My Sugr (June 26, 2015). https://www.mysugr.com/en/blog/high-blood-sugar-after-exercise/ (accessed on 7/26/2020).
6Kiefer, Dale; medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE. “Type 2 Diabetes: The Fitness You Need,” Healthline (updated on July 7, 2017). https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/fitness#1 (accessed on 7/26/2020).
7Stulberg, Brad. “How To Boost Brain Function With Exercise,” Outside (November 1, 2015). https://www.outsideonline.com/2027601/how-boost-brain-function-exercise (accessed on 7/26/2020).
- 10,000 Steps
- Benefits & Challenges of Exercise
- Exercise and Diabetes
- Exercise and Eyesight
- Exercise and Weight Control
- Exercise for the Mobility-challenged
- High Intensity Interval Training
- Motivation to Exercise
- Resistance Training
- Seasonal Exercise
- Strength Training