What is Cardio Exercise? 6 Exercises to Manage Blood Glucose Levels.

Diabetes Care|Jan.13, 2018


Cardio exercise is the trusted, go-to workout form for people trying to stay fit. But believe it or not, this classic way to workout can also help you manage your diabetes. Cardio exercise not only helps you lose weight making diabetes management easier, but it can also help you control your sugar levels, too.

Also known as Aerobic exercise, it stands out among other regimes. Here's how. Studies show that adults with type 2 diabetes can achieve reduced blood sugar levels within 7 days of vigorous aerobic exercise. This manages sugar levels in the blood by burning extra glucose and reducing resistance to insulin, both of which are vital for diabetes control.

Any form of exercise that increases your breathing and heart rate can be categorised as cardio exercise. You could be climbing up the stairs, running, walking, or even working in your garden to burn calories which means more work for your arms, legs and muscles. This increases breathing and enables more oxygen to enter your lungs. As a result, the heart beats faster and carries oxygen-rich blood to the muscles, kidneys, liver and other important organs. This helps build strength and increases energy levels.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic say that regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage high sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Popular Cardio Exercise Routines

If you're a diabetic, you may be anxious about getting into an exercise routine. The first thing to do then is to consult your doctor. Be sure to ask your caregiver about the best and age-appropriate exercise options for you. Some of the activities that fall under cardio exercise are walking, running, cycling, yoga, dancing and swimming.


Walking is the easiest exercise to begin with. Even a 30-min walk can help you fight diabetes, reduce its severity and chances of associated complications. A recent study, in Springer's Diabetologia, found that walking for 10-min after a meal reduced blood glucose levels by 22 percent. Another study maintains that brisk walking can reduce your chances of getting diabetes by 30 percent. Be sure to choose the right walking shoes though, preferably, a flat shoe with a good fit. Initially, walk at a comfortable pace and as you grow into walking, increase the intensity and duration. Here's a workout you can try.


Don't let diabetes derail you from running. This is an equally good way to keep diabetes in check since it enhances the body's reaction to insulin. Paved footpaths, parks or roads are ideal for this but if you prefer the indoors, the treadmill is a great alternative. Start with a warm-up routine and make sure you have a comfortable pair of shoes on. Run at an easy pace and take breaks when you feel tired. Start with a 15-min run thrice a week and gradually increase this to 30-min. Here are a few tips to note when you hit the tracks.


Diabetes may prove a hurdle for cyclists but it is not insurmountable because, at the end of the day, it is all about managing your food and your exercise routines. If done correctly, cycling as an activity can move from being just a leisure activity to a great ride to health. Indoor cycling is also good form of exercise. Aim for at least three cycling workouts each week, beginning with a short 30-min ride, which can be eventually increased to a moderate 45-min ride.


Yoga has been found to be effective when it comes to managing diabetes. In fact, its a preferred form of exercise which helps control weight, lower blood sugar, blood pressure and strengthens your ability to deal with stress. In addition to certain yoga poses like the Sun Salutation and the Kapalbhati pranayam, you can also practice meditation for a positive start to your day. There are many types of yoga but Power yoga is the most popular form as is the fast-paced Vinyasa yoga.


Dance fitness is a fun form of exercise. Choose from a wide array of dance forms -- Zumba, Hip-Hop, Bokawa and Turbojam -- to contain obesity, develop insulin sensitivity, keep the heart ticking and delay Alzheimers. A cardio dance fitness routine like this can also keep diabetes away. Select a dance form that you enjoy and aim for a moderate to vigorous exercise between three and five times a week.


Swimming can be both challenging and refreshing. For people with diabetes, it is definitely an attractive exercise option. Not only does it control weight, develop the muscles and burn calories but it also makes full use of muscles in the upper and lower body to help overcome numbness, common amongst patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy. Start slow and gradually, move to vigorous pool workouts.

So now that you know what cardio exercise is and how it can help you maintain your blood sugar levels, it's time to get into serious exercise mode and work your way to health. Coupled with smart monitoring, these activities can be a great way to manager your sugar levels. Figure out which activity has the most optimal impact on your sugar levels (along with other aspects of your lifestyle) and keep at it!

But most importantly, don't forget to have fun! Whichever exercise form you choose to try, maintain a routine. Start simple and aim to workout for a little while every day. The more you workout, the better you get at it.


Disclaimer: This publication/editorial/article is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication or exercise.