There has been a global increase in the number of people with type II diabetes. And this increase is not only limited to adults, but we are now seeing more cases of type II diabetes in children. One of the key reasons why type II diabetes has increased over the past four decades is because of the lifestyle choices we make for ourselves and our kids. Unfortunately, there are fewer people do any type of consistent exercise and this problem has been compounded by the ready availability of fast foods that are high in fat and calories.

There is no cure for type II diabetes but years of research reveals that one of the best ways to lower blood sugar and reduce the need for diabetic medications is in some form of exercise.

In the past the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has recommended physical movement for every 90 minutes of sedentary time. Today, the ADA has changed its position; it now recommends some type of movement every 30 minutes.

Sedentary behavior such as watching TV, surfing on the computer or attending a meeting has a negative effect on health including diabetes. Recent studies show that management of increased blood sugar can be significantly improved when a sedentary lifestyle is interrupted every 30 minutes. With only three minutes of light physical activity such as walking up a staircase, leg lifts or overhead arm stretches, blood sugar levels may be positively affected. The old saying is true: Any type of physical activity is better than no activity at all.

Even though many types of exercises are regularly promoted for type II diabetes, there is no evidence that one particular type of activity is better than the other for all populations although the following guidelines do exist: 

When you are exercising, your body needs extra energy or fuel (in the form of glucose) for your muscles. For short bursts of exercise, such as a short sprint to catch a bus or running to get out of the rain, the muscles and the liver can release stores of glucose for fuel. With continued moderate exercising, however, your muscles take up glucose at almost II0 times the normal rate. This can lower blood sugar levels. 

If you engage in higher intensity exercises, the opposite effect is true and your blood sugar levels increase since the body recognizes the intense exercise as stress and releases stress hormones that tell your body to increase blood sugar to fuel your muscles. You may need insulin after an intense workout which is why you should monitor your glucose levels. 

It is most important that you select an activity that you prefer because this will ensure compliance in the long run. However, to prevent boredom and monotony, be sure to add other exercise routines to your program. Alternate between cardio, resistance or balance training or simply adopt a generally active lifestyle.

Additionally, type II diabetics should pay strict attention to their food choices. As opposed to trying to  adopt a ‘diabetic diet’ just use a common sense approach; eat a diet that has an abundance of veggies and fruits, some fish and lean protein, whole grains, low fat dairy and nuts; and avoid excess meat and saturated fats. Enjoy sweets in moderation and control your portion sizes.

Since many type II diabetics are overweight or obese, the simplest and most effective exercise is walking. Walking at least 45 to 60 minutes a day is recommended. Each walking session can lead to a loss of 300 calories (depending on your weight), which amounts to 2,100 calories a week which could lead to over two pounds in a month or 24 pounds in a year assuming your nutrition allows for the deficit. There is ample evidence that diabetics who walk cannot only lower their blood sugar, but lose weight, decrease their blood pressure and cholesterol- and some of the biggest benefits of exercise is that it decreases your stress levels, improves your self-esteem and builds confidence. Walking can be done almost anywhere, it is free, and allows you to enjoy nature (but be careful texting while walking!).


Now is the time to adjust your lifestyle to allow for regular activity and proper nutrition intake.  Learning to purchase and plan your meals properly is a great first step, and involving your children in the process is important for them to learn early and make it a lifestyle for themselves.

Thanks for reading!

Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions. For more information, visit or email