Blood sugar levels play a major role in managing type-2 diabetes and exercise is one of the most important ways to maintain healthy glucose levels.
Tami Ross, RD, LD, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators, says a 20 to 30-minute walk can bring about lower blood sugar levels for 24 hours.
Some advantages of walking include:
- Improved blood sugar control
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved cholesterol
- Fewer complications from diabetes, such as heart disease and stroke
- Weight loss and weight maintenance
- Improved circulation and movement
- Less stress and an overall feeling of well-being
If you’re thinking about exercising, it’s best to limit your activity to 30 minutes about five days a week when living with diabetes. That amount of time can provide about 24 hours of benefits.
If this is your first time getting into an exercise routine, take it slow. Try 10 minutes of walking a day before upping your exercise to 30-minute workouts.
As your energy and stamina builds, add on three to five minutes to your workout. This doesn’t have to be done in one period. You can add up the minutes by walking to the grocery story, mowing the lawn or anything physical that takes about 10 minutes.
In preparation for your walks, make sure to buy comfortable shoes. Don’t be afraid to tell the salesperson at the shoe store that you have diabetes so they can recommend the best shoe for you. It’s also good to have a pair of socks that won’t bunch up as you move or won’t get damp from your sweat.
A pedometer will help you keep track of your steps. There are many brands, so find the one that works best for you. A great step goal is about 5,000 steps. It may also help to have a walking buddy. The walk won’t seem as tedious if you’re having fun.
Here are some additional walking tips:
- Schedule your walks for 30 to 60 minutes after eating.
- If your blood sugar is under 100 mg/dL before walking, eat a snack and wait until your level is above 100 mg/dL. If it’s above 250 mg/dL, wait until it comes down.
- Stretch before you walk.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after the walk.
- Bring glucose tablets, hard candy or some juice just in case your blood sugar drops while you’re walking.
- Wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace and carry any personal ID with you.