Type 2 Diabetes, You Have Control

As physical therapists, we treat patients for a variety of diagnoses, including Type 2 Diabetes. For the most part, everyone knows “diet and exercise” are important aspects to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, many do not understand how to actually and correctly go about it. Therefore, it is important to understand TDSM and how exercise can help!

Figuring out how to control Type 2 Diabetes can be overwhelming, but educating yourself is the most important step since you are in control. Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) is a complex, chronic metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia, which is elevated blood glucose that results from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action or both. Management of this disease is a life-long process with support and education needed at every stage of the disease. It can often be very scary and confusing especially when trying to navigate what to do and when. It is important to know that you have control and can make lasting changes in your own life to help.

Most people with T2DM know their A1c number. A1c is the portion of hemoglobin found in the blood with glucose attached. People without T2DM have A1c between 3.0-6.5% and those with it have an elevated A1c between 7-14%. Use of a glucose meter is helpful for you to understand how the foods you eat, activity, T2DM medication and other variables affect blood glucose.

Exercise helps control and regulate glucose in the blood. Activity decreases blood glucose immediately and keeps it lower hours after by using it as energy. Exercise or physical activity can be classified by a combination of intensity, duration, frequency and mode. Intensity is how hard an activity is, duration is how long it’s performed, frequency is how often and mode is the type of activities you do. It is recommended people exercise at least 150 minutes per week, split between 3 or 4 days with no more than two consecutive days without physical activity. Exercise should be performed at an intensity of 55% to 70% of perceived exertion, meaning “fairly hard” to “hard”.

Each 30 minutes per day can begin with three separate, 10 minute sessions and progress to 30 minutes of continuous duration. Evidence shows us that you need to perform 8-10 exercises for each major muscle group. Stretching to improve flexibility is important to avoid injury and maintain good range of motion. These should be used as “cool-down” after resistance or aerobic activities. Try stretching for 5-10 minutes after exercise and involve all joints.

Ultimately, you need to start moving since you have the power to change your life and take control of your T2DM. If you need help starting, physical therapists are your key health care professionals to help you navigate the initial process. Physical therapists can design an individualized program while co-managing other symptoms to minimize difficulty during physical activity.

Exercise improves energy levels as well as physical, psychological and emotional challenges leading to a better quality of life. So get going, you have nothing to lose!