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Exercise for Diabetes

New recommendations from ACSM.

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Trainer helping client with exercise for diabetes

Physical activity can prevent type 2 diabetes and help those who live with the disease to manage it effectively. To help those who manage the condition, and the fit pros who train them, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) issued updated guidelines on exercise for diabetes based on new substantive evidence. These guidelines are applicable to most people coping with the condition, including youth, and they go beyond exercise to include more lifestyle activity and less sedentary time.

Recommendations about exercise for diabetes from the new consensus statement include

  • doing small “doses” of physical activity throughout the day to break up sitting time, particularly for those with insulin resistance and higher body mass index;
  • participating in regular aerobic exercise to help manage blood glucose;
  • choosing high-intensity resistance exercise (rather than low to moderate intensity) to reap more benefits;
  • completing moderately high volumes of exercise 4 or 5 days a week to reduce body fat;
  • getting active after meals to reduce blood glucose; and
  • lowering insulin, if possible, or consuming more carbohydrate-rich foods before going to the gym to avoid blood sugar crashes.

The consensus statement is published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2022; 54 [2], 353–68).

See also: Recreational Running and Type 2 Diabetes

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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