Dec 18, 2023

The Beginner Club - Aerobic Exercise and Diabetes

Regular exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and wellbeing, as well as reducing the risk of disease. The most recent physical activity guidelines recommend accumulating at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise per week, spread over at least 3 days. This is particularly important for individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as regular aerobic exercise helps optimise their health outcomes. However, managing glucose levels before, during, and after exercise can be challenging due to the common risk of hypoglycaemia. Therefore, it is important to have an understanding of safe and effective exercise strategies.

Training your aerobic system is essential as it provides numerous benefits. In this article, we will briefly explore examples of aerobic exercise, how aerobic exercise training works, different types of aerobic exercises, and some tips for increasing physical activity levels.

Understanding Aerobic Exercise

Exercise can be broadly classified as either “aerobic” or “anaerobic”, depending on the main energy systems being used. Aerobic exercise involves continuous movement of large muscle groups at a moderate to high intensity, improving cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Essentially, aerobic exercise refers to any activity that raises your heart rate, breathing rate, and circulation for an extended period. Examples of aerobic exercise training include swimming, cycling, jogging, and dancing. These exercises maintain a steady level of effort, which contributes to improved cardiovascular health and endurance.

Regular aerobic exercise training is an effective way to increase insulin sensitivity. This improvement can make blood glucose management a bit easier. Moreover, engaging in regular aerobic exercise can contribute to weight management. Therefore, by incorporating aerobic exercise into your daily routine, you can experience the benefits of better blood glucose management and improved overall health.

When considering including more aerobic exercise, it is important to choose activities that are enjoyable, safe, and suitable for your fitness level, especially if you are just starting their exercise journey. Some popular options for aerobic exercises for people with diabetes include:

  • Walking or Running: An accessible option that can be easily incorporated into daily routines.

  • Swimming or water aerobics: Ideal for those with joint problems or limited mobility, as water provides support and reduces the impact on joints.

  • Cycling: A low-impact exercise that can be done outdoors or on a stationary bike inside, allowing for varying intensity levels to suit individual needs.

  • Dancing: A fun and social way to improve cardiovascular health, balance, and coordination.

💡 Before starting any aerobic exercise program, it is important to consult with your healthcare professional to ensure that it is safe and suitable for your specific needs. By collaborating with your healthcare team, you can create a personalised aerobic exercise training plan that will help you effectively manage your diabetes and enhance your overall well-being.


Benefits of aerobic exercise for individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes

As mentioned earlier, regular aerobic exercise provides numerous benefits for everyone. However, for people living with diabetes, there are specific advantages. These include increased insulin sensitivity, improved blood glucose management, and enhanced cardiovascular health. Moreover, aerobic exercise can aid in weight management and blood pressure improvement.

To summarise, aerobic exercise is extremely beneficial for individuals living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes for several reasons:

  1. It helps with blood glucose management: Aerobic exercise helps in lowering blood glucose levels by increasing the body's ability to utilise glucose (depending on the relative intensity of exercise). When performed regularly, exercise can help in improving sensitivity.

  2. Cardiovascular Health: Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular complications. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart, improves circulation, and reduces the risk of heart-related issues.

  3. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can be helpful for improving general health and wellbeing. Aerobic exercises aids in burning calories, promoting weight loss or weight maintenance while targeting fat metabolism (also depending on the duration of exercise).

  4. Reduces Stress and Improved Mental Health: Exercise, including aerobic activities, helps reduce stress levels and improves mental health, which is beneficial for overall well-being in managing type 2 diabetes. Exercise can be a great way to meet new friends and improve your social circle.

💡 People living with diabetes should monitor their blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise. Consulting with your healthcare team can help you develop personalized exercise plans that take into account your individual health conditions, fitness levels, and specific diabetes management needs.


To start an aerobic exercise regimen, you don't need to completely change your routine. Begin by making small changes to your daily activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a brisk walk during your lunch break. As your fitness improves, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. For individuals looking for a gentle introduction to aerobic exercise, we suggest checking out our training plans here.

Variety is the key to staying engaged and maximising the benefits of your workouts. To prevent boredom and target different muscle groups, mix up your exercise routine. Try alternating between activities such as swimming, cycling, and fitness classes to keep things fresh and enjoyable.

How much exercise should I do? What do the experts suggest?

The guidelines provided by various health organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) typically recommend a minimum amount of aerobic exercise for adults every week. These guidelines are based on research and aim to promote optimal health and well-being.

Here's a summary:

WHO Guidelines:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults aged 18-64 should engage in at least:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or

  • 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or

  • An equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity.

Additionally, they suggest that more substantial health benefits can be achieved by doubling this amount to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

CDC Guidelines:

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offer similar recommendations:

  • Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, coupled with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

They also emphasize that spreading aerobic activity throughout the week in sessions of at least 10 minutes at a time can be beneficial.

ADA Guidelines for Exercise for People with Diabetes:

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) emphasises the importance of regular physical activity for individuals living with diabetes. As we’ve seen before, exercise is a cornerstone of diabetes management, as it offers numerous benefits in managing blood glucose levels, improving cardiovascular health, and enhancing overall well-being. Here are the ADA's recommendations:

  1. Aerobic Exercise: The ADA recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing, spread across most days of the week.

  2. Strength Training: Incorporating strength or resistance training exercises at least two to three times per week can help improve muscle strength, increase insulin sensitivity, and aid in glucose management.

  3. Flexibility and Balance Exercises: Including activities that focus on flexibility and balance, such as yoga or tai chi, can improve overall fitness and reduce the risk of falls.

  4. A Personalized Approach: The ADA suggests tailoring exercise routines to individual preferences, abilities, and health conditions. Consulting with healthcare professionals and certified fitness trainers can help create personalised plans.

  5. Monitoring and Safety: People with diabetes should regularly monitor blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise. Adjustments to medications, meal timing, or carbohydrate intake might be necessary to prevent hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) during or after physical activity.

💡 The American Diabetes Association (ADA) underscores the significance of consistency in exercise routines while advocating for a well-rounded approach that includes various types of physical activity. Regular exercise, alongside a healthy diet and proper medication adherence, plays a crucial role in managing diabetes and reducing the risk of associated complications.

Always consult your healthcare providers, including diabetes educators or registered dieticians, to customise exercise plans and ensure they align with your individual health needs and goals. These professionals can offer guidance on managing diabetes during exercise and maximising its benefits while minimising potential risks.


Additional Considerations

It is important to note that these recommendations are general guidelines and can be adjusted based on individual health conditions, fitness levels, and goals. Some individuals may require more or less exercise depending on their specific circumstances.

Furthermore, any physical activity is better than none. For those who are currently inactive, starting with small increments and gradually increasing duration and intensity can yield significant health benefits.

Aerobic exercise is an essential component of a comprehensive fitness routine, providing numerous advantages for both physical and mental well-being. Its capacity to improve cardiovascular health, assist in weight management, and elevate mood makes it a valuable asset in the quest for a healthier lifestyle.

Getting Started with an Exercise Plan

Consulting with Healthcare Professionals

Before starting an aerobic exercise program, it is important to consult with your healthcare team, including your doctor, endocrinologist, or certified diabetes educator. They can assess your current health status, identify potential risk factors, and offer guidance on the appropriate types and intensity levels of aerobic exercises to incorporate into your routine. Collaborating with healthcare professionals can help ensure that your aerobic exercise plan is safe, effective, and tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Designing a Personalised Aerobic Exercise Plan

The next step is to design a personalised aerobic exercise plan that aligns with your preferences, fitness level, and health goals. This plan should include a variety of aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling, as well as a schedule outlining the frequency, intensity, and duration of each exercise session. Be sure to start gradually and progressively increase the intensity and duration of your workouts to avoid injury and stay motivated.

Check out our article about how to start a training plan here.

Monitoring and Adjusting the Exercise Plan Based on Progress and Needs

As you continue with your aerobic exercise routine, it is important to monitor your blood glucose levels, physical performance, and overall health. Regular check-ins with your healthcare team can help identify any necessary adjustments to your exercise plan, ensuring its ongoing effectiveness and safety. This monitoring process also allows you to track your progress, celebrate your successes, and stay motivated in your pursuit of better diabetes management through aerobic exercise.

In summary, training your aerobic system may involve designing a personalised exercise plan, and monitoring and adjusting the plan based on your needs and progress. By following these steps and committing to regular aerobic exercise, you can take control of your fitness journey and work towards improved overall health and well-being.

Strategies to Incorporate Aerobic Exercise in Daily Routines:

To make aerobic exercise a consistent part of your daily life, consider the following strategies:

  • Set specific, attainable goals for your aerobic exercise regimen, such as walking for 30 minutes a day or swimming three times a week.

  • Create a schedule that includes designated times for aerobic exercise and stick to it as much as possible.

  • Identify and address potential barriers to regular aerobic exercise, such as time constraints or lack of motivation.

  • Involve family and friends in your exercise routine for support and accountability.

  • Consider joining a fitness class or community group focused on aerobic exercise to stay motivated and connected with others who share your goals.

Making Aerobic Exercise Enjoyable and Sustainable

To ensure that your aerobic exercise regimen is enjoyable and sustainable, consider the following tips:

  • Choose aerobic exercises that you enjoy and feel excited about, as this will increase the likelihood of long-term adherence.

  • Vary your aerobic exercise routine to prevent boredom and maintain motivation.

  • Listen to your body and adjust the intensity and duration of your workouts as needed to avoid overexertion or injury.

  • Track your progress and celebrate milestones and achievements to stay motivated and focused on your goals.

By adding aerobic exercise to your daily routine and following these strategies and tips, you can effectively manage your diabetes and enhance your overall health. Remember to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program to ensure its safety and suitability for your specific needs.

How can Enhance-d help with Aerobic Exercise and Diabetes Management

Enhance-d is a digital diabetes management platform designed to provide comprehensive support for individuals living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes along their exercise journey.

Enhance-d can help you take control of your health by integrating exercise data with other diabetes-related information, collaborating with healthcare professionals for advanced diabetes care, and empowering you to manage your diabetes seamlessly and improve your overall well-being.

Overview of Enhance-d Digital Diabetes Management Platform

Enhance-d is a user-friendly platform that integrates, analyses, and presents all diabetes-related data in a simple and actionable manner. With features that bring together data from continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), insulin, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and menstrual cycle tracking, Enhance-d helps users make informed decisions about their health and simplifies diabetes management.

With Enhance-d, you can effectively track your aerobic exercise regimen alongside other crucial diabetes-related data. By integrating information about your exercise, blood glucose levels, insulin usage, and other lifestyle factors, Enhance-d provides a holistic view of your diabetes management. This comprehensive approach enables you to identify patterns and trends, make necessary adjustments to your exercise plan, and optimize your overall diabetes care.

Collaborating with Healthcare Professionals for Advanced Diabetes Care

Enhance-d emphasises the importance of sharing data and collaborating with healthcare professionals for advanced diabetes care. By connecting with your healthcare team through the platform, you can efficiently communicate your progress, discuss potential adjustments to your exercise plan, and receive expert guidance to help you manage your diabetes effectively.

Empowering Individuals with Diabetes to Take Control of Their Health and Exercise Goals

Ultimately, the goal of Enhance-d is to empower individuals living with diabetes to take control of their health through exercise. By leveraging the platform's features and benefits, you can make informed decisions about your exercise plan, collaborate with healthcare professionals, and work towards a healthier and more active life. To get started with Enhance-d, visit our website and sign up now.

Conclusion

In conclusion, aerobic exercise offers numerous benefits for individuals living with diabetes. These benefits include improved insulin sensitivity, better blood glucose management, and enhanced cardiovascular health. As we have explored in this article, the importance of aerobic exercise in diabetes management cannot be overstated. By engaging in regular physical activity, you can work towards a healthier and more active life. We encourage you to seek the support of healthcare professionals and utilize tools like the Enhance-d digital diabetes management platform as you embark on your new exercise journey.

Even just 10 minutes a day can make a difference!

Sign up now and get FREE access

Our online dashboard is free to use, as you’re helping us build the best platform for diabetes and weight management!

Get Started ->

Stay up to date

Sign up for our newsletter and get updates, resources, offers and special early access to everything Enhance-d related!

Subscribe

Contact Us

Product

©2023 by Sestante Analytics AG

Sign up now and get FREE access

Our online dashboard is free to use, as you’re helping us build the best platform for diabetes and weight management!

Get Started ->

Stay up to date

Sign up for our newsletter and get updates, resources, offers and special early access to everything Enhance-d related!

Subscribe

Contact Us

Product

©2023 by Sestante Analytics AG

Sign up now and get FREE access

Our online dashboard is free to use, as you’re helping us build the best platform for diabetes and weight management!

Get Started ->

Stay up to date

Sign up for our newsletter and get updates, resources, offers and special early access to everything Enhance-d related!

Subscribe

Contact Us

Product

©2023 by Sestante Analytics AG