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The 3 Best Exercises for Blood Sugar Control

Dr. Spencer Nadolsky
Dr. Spencer Nadolsky

When patients hear the word exercise, they oftentimes think of punishment and sweat-drenched exhausted folks who are obsessed with the gym. This is unfortunate because exercise is one of the best medicines for your health, including blood sugar control, and doesn’t have to be miserable. Here are the three best exercises you can do to lower your blood sugar naturally

1. Walk—But Do It After Your Biggest Meal

Many people have heard walking is an okay form of exercise, but did you know that WHEN you walk may have more benefit on your blood sugar control? Studies show walking after a meal lowers your blood sugar more than doing it at other times. So if you want the biggest bang for your buck, go for a 30 minute walk after your biggest meal of the day. This will help to burn the calories you just ate and lower your blood sugar naturally.

2. Hit the Weight Room—and Do These 3 Exercises

Hate the idea of boring cardio training like biking and the elliptical and even aerobic classes? You can actually lower your blood sugar naturally by lifting weights. I call myself the “Doc Who Lifts” because I try to get all of my patients lifting weights. Don’t worry, lifting weights won’t automatically give you big gross muscles. What you can expect is better shaping of your body while getting better blood sugar control.

No need to be intimidated by the big muscly folks in the free weights area in the gym. The machines are fine to use and can eliminate the need for a spotter. For blood sugar control, you want to shoot for at least two days a week doing a full body workout, which includes pressing (chest press), rowing (back row), and legs (leg press). 

Start with two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions each. A repetition is one full movement during the set and a set is after you complete all repetitions. For example if you’re doing a back row, a repetition is when you pull the weight all the way to your chest and then go back down. That is one rep or repetition. After you have done 10-15 of those and stop, that is one set. Don’t start too heavy. Do each set until you feel like you have about three reps left before you wouldn’t be able to do anymore, then stop.

3. Have More Fun!

Beyond walking and lifting, my best secret to lower blood sugar naturally is finding ways to increase non-structured activities (activities that aren’t formal exercise like biking, lifting, etc.). Things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator are great to do, but my favorite thing is to plan fun hiking trips. Not only do you get to be outdoors with nature, you get great physical activity that’s important for blood sugar control.

Yes this is technically walking, but it is more fun and not so structured. Doing stuff for “play” is basically exercise dressed up in something better looking and with more charisma. Maybe your idea of fun is going to the pool or lake with family and playing in the water. Either way, if the activity is fun, it is still good for you—and will help you lower your blood sugar naturally.

One last note, before you begin an exercise program consult your doctor to make sure you’re cleared for exercise. Then, ramp up slowly—and have fun getting fit!

10 Secrets to Beat High Blood Sugar and Diabetes

It’s never too late! These proven tips can help you get off the “sugary slope” and keep your blood sugar balanced, for good. (You won’t believe secret #6!)

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