Reverse Pre-Diabetes with Exercise
Good news for people with pre-diabetes: The recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program study showed conclusively that you can keep from developing type 2 diabetes by changing your diet and increasing your level of physical activity. You may even be able to return your blood sugar (glucose) levels to the normal range.
Diet and exercise worked even better than some medications that can delay the development of diabetes, according to the study. For the exercise part of the study, participants did 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise. That, combined with a 5-10% reduction in body weight, added up to a 58% reduction in diabetes in people who took part.
Being physically active can lower your blood sugar and help insulin work better. It also improves blood circulation, reduces the risk for heart disease, relieves stress, and strengthens muscles and bones. And you don’t have to become a gym rat or play a sport to get its benefits. Exercise is anything that gets you moving, including dancing, doing yard work, and walking.
Getting Active: A How-To Guide
For physical fitness, we need three types of activity:
Aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercise
This kind of exercise raises your heart rate and makes you breathe harder. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week. If you don’t exercise regularly, start with 5 or 10 minutes a day and add a few more minutes each week. Aerobic exercise includes:
- Walking briskly or jogging
- Swimming or taking a water aerobics class
- Playing tennis
- Biking, either on a stationary bike or outdoors
This is exercise that builds stronger muscles and bones. As an added bonus, having bigger muscles makes you burn more calories, even when you’re resting. Examples of strength training are:
- Weight lifting in a class that uses free weights (not weight machines)
- Weight lifting using weight machines, at a YMCA or health club
- Weight lifting on your own, perhaps using a book or weight-training video
Flexibility exercises, or stretching
This increases your flexibility, which means you’ll be less likely to injure yourself when you work out. Here’s how to stretch the right way:
- Take a stretching class
- Learn to stretch properly using a video or book
- Ask your healthcare team what the best way is for you to stretch
If your current lifestyle is sedentary, talk to your healthcare provider about a workout plan. Adding regular exercise to your life will not only make you feel and look better, it may help you turn back the clock to a time before you were diagnosed with pre-diabetes and keep it there.