The Role of Exercise in a Prediabetes Diet and Lifestyle

Ashley Montgomery
4 min readJan 6, 2024

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Do you know that exercise can help you prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes? If you have prediabetes, a condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, you can benefit from a healthy diet and regular physical activity. In this article, we will explore the role of exercise in a prediabetes diet and lifestyle, and how you can make it work for you.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

What is Prediabetes and Why is it Important to Manage it?

Prediabetes is a warning sign that your body is not using insulin properly, a hormone that helps your cells use glucose (sugar) for energy. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise, which can damage your organs and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other health problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 88 million adults in the United States have prediabetes, and most of them are not aware of it. The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet, losing excess weight, and exercising regularly. For those interested in what a prediabetes diet plan looks like we’ve curated a 7-day meal plan for prediabetes.

How Does Exercise Help with Prediabetes?

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to lower your blood sugar levels and improve your insulin sensitivity. When you exercise, your muscles use glucose for energy, which reduces the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Exercise also helps your body use insulin more efficiently, which helps your cells absorb glucose better.

Exercise has many other benefits for your health and well-being, such as:

  • Strengthening your heart and lungs
  • Improving your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Enhancing your mood and mental health
  • Boosting your energy and stamina
  • Preventing or reducing joint pain and stiffness
  • Increasing your bone density and muscle mass
  • Reducing your risk of certain cancers

How Much and What Kind of Exercise Should You Do?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that adults with prediabetes do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

You should also do some strength training at least twice a week, such as:

  • Lifting weights
  • Using resistance bands
  • Doing bodyweight exercises

Strength training helps you build muscle, which burns more calories than fat and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

You can also add some flexibility exercises to your routine, such as:

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

Flexibility exercises help you improve your range of motion, posture, balance, and coordination.

The key to making exercise a part of your prediabetes diet and lifestyle is to find something that you enjoy and can stick with. You can start slowly and gradually increasing your workouts’ intensity and duration. You can also vary your activities to keep yourself motivated and prevent boredom. For example, you can try different exercise classes, join a sports team or club, or exercise with a friend or family member.

What are Some Tips to Make Exercise Safer and More Effective?

Before you start any exercise program, you should consult with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you. Your doctor can also help you set realistic goals and monitor your progress. You should also check your blood sugar levels before and after exercise to see how it affects them. You may need to adjust your medication or food intake accordingly.

Here are some other tips to make exercise safer and more effective for prediabetes:

  • Warm up before and cool down after each session to prevent injuries and soreness.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that fit well and support your feet.
  • Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures or humidity levels.
  • Listen to your body and stop if you feel pain, dizziness, nausea, or shortness of breath.
  • Keep a record of your exercise activities and achievements to track your improvement and celebrate your success.

Exercise is an essential component of a prediabetes diet and lifestyle. It can help you lower your blood sugar levels, improve your insulin sensitivity, and prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes. It can also improve your overall health and quality of life. So what are you waiting for? Start moving today and enjoy the benefits of exercise for prediabetes!

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