Words From on High: More Movement Needed

The ADA has released new guidelines. More activity can improve glucose control and encourage weight loss.

The American Diabetes Association has released new guidelines for diabetics who want to improve their blood sugar control. The guidelines are simple: move for three or more minutes every 30 minutes of prolonged periods of low activity, inactivity, or sitting. For people who work on computers or spend a lot of time seated, this recommendation can help to improve glucose management.

Previously, the ADA’s recommendation was to engage in a few minutes of light physical every 90 minutes of sitting down. However, the ADA has updated its guidelines to increase movement among diabetics. Not only will this help diabetics to have better blood sugar control, but it can encourage more activity in their day. More activity can further improve glucose control and encourage weight loss.

The new guidelines recommend a wide range of light activity: walking in place, desk chair swivels, side lunges, torso twists, overhead arm stretches, and more. Anyone can do these exercises, as they are low intensity and are ideal for those even with limited mobility. But by including more light exercise, diabetics can improve their health noticeably.

Of course, the ADA recommends this is in addition to regular exercise, not as a replacement. It’s of the utmost important for those with diabetes to engage in daily moderate to vigorous exercise. Greater activity can aid in the struggle to control diabetes and promote weight loss/fat control. Aerobic exercise, balance and flexibility training, and resistance training are all encouraged for diabetics looking to take back their health.

Aerobic training, in particular, is advisable for those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can be managed by aerobic exercise, thanks to improved insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular fitness. Type 2 diabetes patients will find their blood sugar control better, and their risk of heart attacks (a common complication of diabetes) much lower. Even women with gestational (pregnancy) diabetes can benefit from aerobic exercise.

Resistance training is also recommended for diabetics. Increased muscle mass can lead to reduced body fat, which can help to decrease insulin resistance. Healthy lifestyle changes—such as improved eating habits, moderated calorie intake, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine in excess—can add to the effectiveness of the workout programs.

The ADA drafted the updated guidelines after reviewing more than 180 studies, as well as receiving feedback from exercise and diabetes experts. The statement was published in the journal Diabetes Care.1


1. Colberg, Sheri R., Ronald J. Sigal, Jane E. Yardley, Michael C. Riddell, David W. Dunstan, Paddy C. Dempsey, Edward S. Horton, Kristin Castorino, and Deborah F. Tate. “Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association.” Diabetes Care 39, no. 11 (November 1, 2016): 2065–79. 

Leave a Comment