We've talked in the past about how type 2 diabetes in truck drivers can be treated and managed with simple day-to-day changes like adopting a healthy diet and beginning an exercise plan. But many people get a little scared at the thought of starting to work out when their current activity level is nil. The good news is truck drivers with diabetes don't have to adopt some crazy routine! Even small activity like walking around the truck stop can have amazing effects on your type 2 diabetes. In this post, we're going to talk all about how exercise helps manage type 2 diabetes on the road.
How does exercise help truck driver diabetes?
Aside from the fact that it's just plain good for you, exercise helps your body use insulin which controls blood sugar better. It also burns body fat, strengthens muscles and bones, lowers blood pressure, and improves blood circulation. That's quite a few benefits, huh?
It turns out, exercise can lower a person's blood glucose for up to 24 hours after a workout by making the body more sensitive to insulin. This makes it easier for cells to use the insulin that is available. Being active in the long term can even lower a diabetic's A1C!
How much exercise do truck drivers with diabetes need?
This goes back to the "not needing to adopt a crazy routine" thing. Even something as simple as a brisk 30-minute walk a few times a week is enough to improve a diabetic's fitness level and manage type 2 diabetes. We recommend starting out with 15 minutes of walking and slowly working your way up to longer and more intense bouts of exercise as you get more comfortable.
Tips on Adopting a Diabetic Exercise Plan for Truckers
1. Make a Plan
The most important thing to do when adopting a fitness program is making a plan. How often are you going to exercise? How many times a week? For how long? What kinds of exercises are you going to do? Having a detailed plan can make it easier to stay on track.
2. Start Slowly
While the excitement is a good thing, there's no need to jump into running 4 miles every day. Start slow, and your chances of making exercise a hobby over time increase. If you go in with a bang, you'll burn out quicker. Instead of running 4 miles, walk around the parking lot for 15 minutes. Don't even track distance; just walk briskly and get that heart rate up.
3. Stay Consistent
Work out at approximately the same time and for the same duration each day. This will better control your blood sugar as well as help you adopt exercise as a part of your routine. If it's just something you do every day at 6 a.m. before you take off for the day, it won't be so hard to work up the motivation.
4. Check Blood Sugar
Regardless of whether your diabetes is type 1 or type 2, check your blood sugar prior to exercising to ensure it is less than 250 mg/dl.
Great Exercises for Type 2 Truck Driver Diabetics
"Ok, ok, I get it," you say. "What are some exercises I can do to get on the road to a healthier life?" you say. I'm glad you asked! There are a few exercises out there that don't require extensive previous "fitness knowledge" and that can be done with an on-the-go lifestyle.
We talk about the perks of walking a lot, but with good reason. It seems so easy but seriously, walking is one of the best exercises there is. Now, we're not talking a leisurely stroll, but a brisk, upbeat walk around the truck stop. You should be sweating. The best part? You don't even need any equipment for it! Just strap your sneaks' on and go for a few laps around the truck stop. Even 30 minutes of walking a day can help drop the pounds and treat type 2 diabetes.
See Also: 13 Health Benefits of Walking
You don't have to be a gym rat to lift weights and tone muscle. In fact, strength training is one of the best ways we can exercise! It's good for our bones and can help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance on top of helping lose weight. Weight training has even been found to improve insulin sensitivity to the same extend that aerobic exercise (i.e. running, stair stepping, elliptical-ing) does!
If weight training isn't your style, consider picking up a yoga habit. Yoga helps to increase flexibility, balance, strength, and relaxation. Remember that yoga isn't a replacement for cardio like walking or running, but when done in addition to aerobic activity, yoga can have great benefits for diabetic truck drivers. One of the best things about yoga is that it requires minimal equipment -- if you carry a yoga mat with you on the road, you can get out and do some stretches while you're stopped for a break. Some yoga positions can even be done from the comfort of your bunk.
A type 2 diabetes diagnosis doesn't have to mean the end of your truck driving career. It does mean that you need to get it managed though. Fortunately, with the help of a healthy truck driver diabetes diet and some exercise, you can stay well and prevent further diabetes complications.