The Impact of Aerobic & Anaerobic Exercises on Type 2 Diabetes

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If you are trying to maintain healthy blood glucose levels, you must make regular exercise a non-negotiable part of your life. Staying active and exercising regularly plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. But are you confused about the type of exercise you should opt for? Let’s understand what aerobic and anaerobic exercises are and their role in the management of Type 2 Diabetes.


What is the Role of Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic condition where your blood glucose (sugar) levels are constantly higher than normal. It occurs either because your body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin or because your body is unable to utilise it efficiently to break down the glucose in your body. In either case, exercise can help your body use glucose more efficiently. 

Regular exercise can help your cells use up more glucose to produce energy and lower your blood sugar levels efficiently. But there are different types of exercises with different effects on your body. So, which exercise do you choose as a Type 2 Diabetic? 

Read on to understand the role of aerobic and anaerobic exercises in the management of Type 2 Diabetes.

What are Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercises?

Any form of exercise includes some aerobic and anaerobic activities. 

Aerobic Exercises

These exercises are called “aerobic” because they are fueled by the oxygen you get from breathing and elevate the amount of oxygen in your blood. These exercises are also called cardiovascular conditioning or simply “cardio”.

These exercises include endurance activities that can raise your heart and breathing rate for a relatively long duration. Activities such as jogging, running, dancing, brisk walking, swimming, and cycling are aerobic exercises.

Anaerobic Exercises 

These exercises are called “anaerobic” because your body does not need oxygen to keep your muscles going and instead uses the energy stored in your muscles. These exercises involve short bursts of intense activity and include activities such as weight lifting and high-intensity interval training. 

Generally speaking, aerobic exercises help build endurance, whereas anaerobic exercise helps increase your muscle mass and strength. Read on to understand how these exercises impact Type 2 Diabetes.

How Do Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercises Impact Type 2 Diabetes?

Effect of Aerobic Exercises

  • While performing any aerobic activities, such as walking on a treadmill, your body burns glycogen (a form of glucose) stored in the body in order to produce energy. 
  • Regular aerobic activities also improve insulin sensitivity, helping your cells use up more glucose.
  • Thus aerobic activities can effectively bring down your blood glucose levels when performed regularly. 
  • You should aim for at least 150 minutes of mild-to-moderate aerobic exercise in a week. 

Effect of Anaerobic Exercises

  • Anaerobic exercises are intense and performed for a short while. They thus help burn more calories and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • While performing anaerobic activities such as weight lifting, your body uses up more glucose from the body as fuel to produce energy.
  • Along with aiding in blood glucose control, anaerobic exercises also improve muscle strength, burn calories, and improve cardiovascular health.
  • You can choose anaerobic activities such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts or strength training exercises such as weight lifting. You can do them at least 2 to 3 days a week, always allowing one full day of rest in between. Also, make sure to follow the right technique while performing these high-intensity exercises in order to avoid any injury.

What are the Safety Tips While Exercising in Type 2 Diabetes?

Both types of exercises can be safely performed by Type 2 Diabetics. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while exercising with Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Before starting with a workout routine, consult your doctor and health coach to understand what kind of exercises would be safe for you.
  • If you are new to exercising, start slow and increase your intensity gradually. Make sure to warm up and cool down for 5 min before and after your workout.
  • If you are exercising at a gym or outdoors, make sure to wear an identification bracelet or tag that you are a diabetic. This is so that others can help you in case of an emergency. 
  • Always keep a small snack handy, which contains 15 to 30 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates in preparation for a hypoglycemic episode. Such snacks include whole fruit, glucose tablets, candies, fruit juice etc.
  • If you are planning to work out for more than one hour, make sure to check your blood sugar levels before, during, and after your workout.
  • If your blood sugar levels are too low (below 100 mg/dL) eat a fast-acting carbohydrate snack and wait for about 15 to 20 minutes before you start exercising. 
  • If your blood sugar is 250 mg/dL or higher, you need to wait until it reaches close to a normal range (99 mg/dL) to exercise. 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Aerobic exercises are activities that increase your heart rate. With aerobic activities, you breathe faster and more deeply, increasing the oxygen in your blood. As your heart rate increases with these exercises, it also improves blood supply to the muscles. It includes activities such as walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming.
  • Anaerobic exercises do not need oxygen to keep your muscles going and use the energy stored in your muscles. These involve short bursts of intense activity and include activities such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and weight lifting.
  • Both types of exercises can be safely performed by Type 2 Diabetics. They aid in blood sugar management by improving insulin sensitivity and using up glucose in the body as a fuel to produce energy.
  • If you are a Type 2 Diabetic before you start any workout routine, make sure to consult your doctor and health coach to understand what kind of exercises would be safe for you.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Friendly Asked Questions

What type of exercise is best for type 2 diabetes?

With a lifestyle disease like Type 2 Diabetes, it is important to stay active and exercise regularly. To start with, you can choose mild-to-moderate intensity aerobic workouts such as brisk walking or jogging. These are easy to do and can be done anywhere.

What is better for diabetes: anaerobic or aerobic exercise?

Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises are good for diabetics. These exercises improve insulin sensitivity and help your body use up more glucose. You can talk to your doctor to understand which exercises would suit you better based on your health. 

Why is my blood sugar high after exercise with Type 2 Diabetes?

After a session of intense workout, you may usually notice a rise in your blood glucose (sugar) levels. This occurs as a result of an increase in stress hormones such as adrenaline. Adrenaline can raise your blood sugar levels by stimulating your liver to release glucose. However, this rise in your blood sugar is not a matter of concern as it is temporary and returns to normal in 1 to 2 hours.

How much exercise per week is recommended for someone with diabetes?

You can aim for at least 30 minutes of mild-to-moderate intensity aerobic workout for at least 5 days a week and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity in a week. Ideally, weekly exercise should be spread over at least three days, with no more than two days passing by without some form of activity.