Living with prediabetes can be scary, especially when you consider how big of an impact it can have on your overall health in the future.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can reduce your risk factors and lessen the risks of developing type 2 diabetes or other conditions related to prediabetes.
One of the best and easiest ways to do this is through exercise.
Here’s everything you need to know about exercising with prediabetes, from what to avoid and what you should focus on to how much exercise you should get every day and more!
What Is Prediabetes
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.
People with prediabetes often do not feel sick or have any symptoms and therefore do not know they have it.
When left untreated, people with prediabetes face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other diseases associated with insulin resistance.
A test called an A1C (or hemoglobin A1c) provides a way to diagnose prediabetes.
It shows your average blood sugar level over the past two to three months by measuring how much glucose is attached to hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through your bloodstream.
Benefits of Exercise for People with Prediabetes
Many people with prediabetes are surprised to learn that exercise can have a positive impact on their blood sugar.
Exercise may help improve insulin sensitivity, which in turn can reduce your risk of developing diabetes down the road.
If you are trying to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, try incorporating exercises into your routine.
Here are 10 benefits of exercise for people with prediabetes.
1. Prediabetes exercise can improve your insulin sensitivity and glucose control.
2. Prediabetes exercise can help prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition that often precedes type 2 diabetes.
3. Prediabetes exercise can lower blood pressure, which reduces heart disease risk in prediabetics
4. Prediabetes exercise can help you manage body weight, potentially reducing fat mass and lowering blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes
5. Prediabetes exercise may promote longevity by reducing your risk of heart disease
6. Prediabetes exercise improves strength, flexibility and balance
7. Physical activity can reduce anxiety, depression and fatigue in prediabetics 8. Prediabetes exercise helps you sleep better
9. Regular exercise lowers cardiovascular risk factors
10. Exercise can improve quality of life by alleviating chronic pain, improving energy levels and boosting self-esteem
Workout Tips for People with Prediabetes
Some people with prediabetes are able to reverse their condition by exercising.
While there is no hard and fast rule about how much exercise is needed for a person with prediabetes.
Doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week, including a minimum of 30 minutes five days a week.
This exercise can be in one session or divided into multiple sessions over the course of each week.
To keep you from getting bored, work different muscle groups on different days.
Resistance training might also help.
Resistance training, which builds muscle mass and helps control insulin levels, has been shown to improve glucose tolerance as well as reduce symptoms associated with diabetes and prediabetes.
Start by lifting weights at least two days a week.
If you have access to a gym, that’s great, If not, you can use dumbbells or even cans of food or bottles of water for resistance training at home.
Your goal should be to work out until your muscles feel tired and then back off just a little.
You may feel lightheaded when you first start working out after sitting on your rear end all day this is normal, don’t worry!
After about three weeks of exercise, you should notice an improvement in stamina if not, check in with your doctor.
Best Ways to Use Working Out To Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels
As someone with prediabetes, you know there are many factors that contribute to high blood sugar.
But did you know that working out can help improve your blood sugar?
In fact, exercise is just as effective at keeping your blood sugar levels low as diabetes medications.
In addition, it’s a great way to control weight and maintain overall health.
Here are a few of our favorite ways you can use exercise to manage your prediabetes symptoms.
And remember, they don’t all have to be done in one session!
There are lots of options when it comes to exercising with prediabetes.
Whether you decide on cardio or strength training or an activity like yoga or pilates, remember:
Choose what works best for your schedule and fitness level, it doesn’t matter if you choose jogging over biking, or vice versa.
To get started now, take a look at some of these common exercises used by people with prediabetes:
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or Tabata intervals consist of short bursts of intense work followed by short rest periods.
This type of exercise has been shown to burn more calories than traditional workouts while building cardiovascular endurance.
For example, if you are using a pedometer, try doing one minute of jogging with a 10 seconds break after every 100 steps.
Now try adding in a 5 second break every 50 steps, slowly increase your breaks until you find a level that is challenging for you and still allows you to keep your heart rate up for at least 15 minutes.
Try out different HIIT intervals on days when you are pressed for time and want to squeeze in some extra activity between appointments!
Other examples include sprinting hills (if you live near hilly terrain), stair climbing or squats.
Strength Training Exercises
These types of exercises can have multiple benefits, such as increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism and reduce body fat percentage
But it’s also important for people with prediabetes to check their blood sugar levels before and after strength training sessions so they don’t push themselves too hard or end up overdoing it.
Activities that are particularly good include squats, lunges and weight lifting (using light weights and higher repetitions).
For lower bodywork, you should start by choosing two leg exercises that target your quadriceps (front of thigh) muscles.
Do three sets of 15 repetitions each per exercise at least three times a week, using a weight that is comfortable for you yet still challenging enough that you aren’t able to complete more than 12 repetitions per set in each set without losing form.
Three days a week, choose one exercise from among those targeting your gluteus (bottom), hamstrings (back of thighs), abductors/adductors (outer/inner thighs) and calves.
Start with three sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise then add 1 rep per session until you reach 20 reps.
Once you have achieved that goal, add another rep to all exercises every 3 weeks until you reach 24 reps per set on all four exercises.
If during any given session you find yourself struggling to do even 5 full repetitions per set, take 5 seconds off-breaks between workout sets and aim for 6 full repetitions next time around.
Low Intensitiy Exercise
An extra 5 minutes of low-intensity exercise a day on top of your regular routine can be anything that gets your heart rate moving like cycling or brisk walking.
Combining strength training and aerobic activity has been shown to significantly improve glycemic control for pre-diabetics.
Continue alternating these days of heavy workouts with lighter activities throughout the week, keeping track of how you feel after each session.
If you feel exhausted or unwell afterwards, skip harder activities until your body has had some rest!
But if everything feels normal after working out, just keep doing what feels right!
Remember that reducing overall body fat and getting your insulin sensitivity back to where it should be will also help reduce risk factors associated with developing type 2 diabetes later on down the road, which is great motivation for staying fit anyway!
Prediabetes can be managed and even prevented through exercise.
Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. However, if you’re prediabetic, there are three things you should keep in mind:
Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine;
Follow your doctor’s instructions, and start slow!
Moderation is key, so pick a few activities that interest you biking is always a good option, get moving!