I frequently get asked the question,"What is the best exercise for people with type 2 diabetes?"
I then ask the class, "What do you all think is the best exercise for people with diabetes?"
Depending on how much time I have in class that day, I usually let them discuss it for a while.
Then I ask, " Well, what do you think?"
"Walking, oh yeh, it's the best," somebody answers.
"Swimming is better," someone else says, "It doesn't hurt my knees like walking does."
"How about riding a bike?" somebody asks from the back of the room wanting her view to be heard.
"The best exercise is the one you like the most or the one you are able to do," I tell them.
In most cases it doesn't matter what exercise you do, but how often you do the exercise. Far too often a patient will tell me they walked all over the park or the zoo or rode bikes for two hours on Sunday, not to get any more exercise for the next three or four days. That is absolutely no good and of minimal to no value. Exercise, regardless of what exercise, needs to be performed on a regular basis to be of any significant value. I will revisit this in a moment.
As to the exercises that will help diabetes the most, all exercises have their pros and cons. As an example, walking burns more calories in thirty minutes than swimming because walking is weight bearing and swimming is not. Does that make walking a better exercise? No, it simply means that walking burns more calories than swimming. Swimming on the other hand uses muscles in both the upper and lower body. As I said, every exercise has its pros and cons.
People should choose exercises that are the most fun to do or that they enjoy.
For those people that are not too fond of exercise they should do the exercise they dislike the least.
Getting back to the frequency of exercise. The latest guidelines suggest that all adults should exercise a minimum of 150 minutes per week with no more than two days between exercise sessions. The length of time can be divided up a variety of ways with the key being not to overload yourself on any one day. Exercise can be performed twice in one day doing 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening if that makes it any easier to accomplish. The important thing is to get it done, REGULARLY.
Always check with your doctor first and let him/her know what you intend to do. Never exercise when you are sick or right after a meal as this puts an extra strain on your heart.
Have you ever heard the expression "Slow and regular win the race?" It's new, try it.
Milt Bedingfield is a certified diabetes educator and exercise physiologist.
Milt's other website can be found at: http ://www.NewlyDiagnosedDiabetes.com.