Exercise and weight loss lower blood sugar because they both reduce the body's insulin resistance, the key problem in people with type 2 diabetes.
Therefore, increasing exercise or losing weight can sometimes lower or eliminate your need for diabetes medication. It's easier to keep your blood sugar in check without medication if your body is more sensitive to the insulin your body does make (most people with type 2 diabetes make at least some of the hormone).
Louis Sarkes, 50, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2006 after a routine blood test during his annual physical exam. "I was surprised, but motivated to do something right away," said Sarkes, who is a money manager based in Baltimore, Md.
He went to an all-day session on weight loss at Johns Hopkins University (where his doctor is based). He listened to doctors, nutritionists, and other patients talk about weight loss and exercise strategies, setbacks and successes.
"I chose a diet low in sugars and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and kept carbohydrates at 30 to 35 grams per meal, or no more than 100 grams in a day," says Sarkes. He didnt count every calorie, but kept a general sense and tried to keep the daily limit of calories to 1,800.
"To get as much information as I could, especially on tips for sticking with the diet, I met with the nutritionist on my own, and also read everything on the Internet I could find," he said. He followed the advice of his nutritionist and didn't feel guilty if he went over his carbohydrate or calorie limithe just started again as soon a possible. He found healthy snacks he liked and avoided high-fat, high calorie choices.
He started exercising regularly and varied what he did so he wouldnt get bored. "My choices including running, using an elliptical trainer and bicycling," says Sarkes, who opts for one of those choices three to four times each week.
Sarkes lost 20 pounds and no longer needed blood-sugar lowering medication. "I was able to stop taking metformin, the drug I had been taking to lower my glucose," Sarkes says.