GARDENING IS THE PERFECT MEDICINE
EXERCISE is vital for preventing type 2 diabetes — but even simply just moving more can help control and even reverse the condition.
This is because whenever we exercise, our bodies use sugar to make energy. This sugar comes from the bloodstream and from the muscles and liver (where it’s stored as glycogen).
The benefits aren’t just physical. Canadian research suggests that inactive adults with type 2 diabetes are almost twice as likely to be depressed as those who are physically active.
‘The people starting out with the lowest levels of fitness have the biggest gains to make from just being less inactive,’ says Dr Sheri Colberg, professor of exercise science at Old Dominion University in the U.S. She argues that exercise ‘is a forgotten tool’ for treating diabetes.
THE EXERCISE SOLUTION
INSTEAD of thinking about ‘exercise’, which can be daunting, think in terms of increasing your ‘physical activity’, which means everything you do counts — for example, walking to the shops.
‘Think about just standing up more during the day,’ says Dr Colberg. ‘Don’t sit for longer than an hour at a time.’ Prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, affecting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
‘Walking is ideal. And once you start walking more, add in faster intervals — for example, walking a little faster between two driveways, intermittently.’
The Department of Health advises at least 150 minutes of moderate- i ntensity aerobic activity every week — such as cycling, fast walking, water aerobics, pushing a manual lawnmower — as well as musclestrengthening activities (weights, working out with resistance bands, heavy gardening, yoga or exercises that use body weight for resistance, such as sit-ups) on two or more days a week.