If you’re looking for natural ways to address your prediabetes, you’ve probably been focusing on food. And I applaud you! Changing your diet is arguably the most important thing you can do in your battle with high blood sugar. If you’re still in the research phase of diet and prediabetes, I have some resources for you. I recommend you start with my Carb Sensitivity Quiz. You can also find several articles by scrolling back in my blog. You can start with this article on the best strategies for cutting carbs for prediabetes.
When it comes to fighting prediabetes, food is definitely the place to start. But it’s not the only thing that can help. If you add exercise to your tool belt, you can make progress just that much faster.
Exercise and Prediabetes
By now it’s considered common sense that adding exercise to your life carries health benefits. You can improve your cardiovascular health, bone strength, muscle mass, and even your mood. So it’s no surprise that exercise can also help with blood sugar regulation as well.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases performed a major clinical study where they conducted a 3-year observation of people at risk for diabetes. They came away with good news. Including 150 minutes of exercise a week decreased people’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%!
If you’ve already incorporated exercise into your health routines, good for you! You’re on the right track. If you aren’t exercising regularly, you can start right now.
Many of the clients who come to me for help with prediabetes avoid exercise because it seems hard or unpleasant. And most people just won’t do things that are hard or unpleasant unless they absolutely have to — especially on a consistent basis.
I’m not going to try to convince you to take on an exercise program that feels miserable, overwhelming, or intimidating. You honestly don’t have to!
If “exercise” isn’t your thing, that’s totally okay. A simple mindshift can make all the difference.
Exercise and Mindset
If the word “exercise” conjures up images of trudging to the gym for an hour of misery and discomfort, I have good news for you. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. In fact, let’s drop the ‘E’ word altogether in favor of the word “movement”.
Movement is anything that gets you out of your chair. It doesn’t have to be hard or fancy. It doesn’t have to take hours at a time. And it’s okay to start small. According to the American Diabetes Association, even just a little bit of activity improves insulin action in adults who typically lead a sedentary lifestyle.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity each week. But there are no rules on what kind of activity you do, when you do it, or where you do it.
Getting 150 minutes of activity can look like three 50-minute trips to the gym. But it can also be five 30-minute walks. Or even ten 15-minute walks. Getting in your movement can be easier than you think.
Try making these simple changes to add more movement to your day:
✔ When you bring in groceries, carry less at a time and make more trips back and forth to the car.
✔ Choose a parking spot that’s farther away.
✔ Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
✔ Take a longer route to your desk at the office.
✔ While you’re working, once an hour get up and walk around for 2 minutes.
✔ Walk around the block when you pick up your mail.
You might be surprised at how much movement you can add without setting aside dedicated time to exercise.
If you’re ready to incorporate some dedicated exercise time into your week, I recommend you do a mix of aerobic exercise and strength training.
Aerobic exercises are the activities that get your heart rate up. These types of activities can help you manage your blood sugar and weight. But they are also beneficial for cardiovascular health, mental health, and overall well-being.
If you’re monitoring your blood sugar before and after aerobic exercise, you may notice that the positive effects can be both immediate and long-term.
Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets your heart rate up:
✔ Swimming or Water Exercise
✔ Team Sports
✔ Aerobic Dance or Group Classes
Strength training is less about heart rate and more about muscle. Also known as resistance training, strength training can help increase muscle mass, increase the number of calories you burn through each day, and improve your blood sugar balance.
Muscle can take in glucose without the need for insulin, so it helps clear blood sugar faster. The more muscle you have, the more "real estate" you have to absorb glucose.
If you only do one type of exercise, I would recommend you choose the aerobic exercises that get your heart rate up. But a combination of aerobic and strength training can be a powerful force when it comes to blood sugar management.
If you’re interested in strength training, you can:
✔ Use weight machines at the gym
✔ Work with a personal trainer and learn to use free weights.
✔ Use resistance bands
✔ Try calisthenic exercises like lunges and push-ups that use your body weight for resistance.
Food and Exercise: The Power Combo for Prediabetes
When it comes to reversing your prediabetes, food is Batman and exercise is Robin. If you only choose one, focus on what you eat. But if you can incorporate both into your lifestyle, you’ll know you’re doing what it takes to make maximum progress on not only improving your blood sugar, but boosting your overall health and wellness. You’ll likely improve your lab numbers — but you’ll also improve your overall quality of life.
If you need help with your prediabetes, I’m here for you. I know making the food and lifestyle changes that will make a difference can be overwhelming. Having the support of a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner can make all the difference. If you’re ready to get serious about reversing your prediabetes, let’s talk.