Fitness Articles

Diabetes Weight-Loss Workout Plan

An 8-Week, Easy-to-Follow Plan for Beginners

Regular exercise has long been proven to help people with diabetes reduce their risk of future complications and manage their blood sugar levels. A recent study published in the Nov. 24, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when people with type 2 diabetes did aerobic (cardio) exercise some days and resistance training on others, they had lower blood sugar levels after nine months than people who did either type of exercise alone. That's news to researchers who long believed that aerobic exercise alone was the best way to manage blood sugar.

According to Dr. Ronald Sigal, professor of medicine at the University of Calgary and author of an editorial that accompanied the published study, "Someone who wants to maximize the impact on glucose control and maximize the use of their time should do both aerobic and resistance exercise." He told HealthDay news that, "Even a relatively small amount of resistance exercise--one set twice a week for about 20 minutes--makes a difference."

If you're new to fitness or just want to renew your commitment to exercise and weight loss, SparkPeople's 8-Week Diabetes Weight Loss Challenge is for you! I created this workout plan for people of all fitness levels. It involves a proven combination of cardio exercise and strength training to rev your metabolism to help you manage your weight.  Another plus is that every workout can be tailored to your own fitness level, and you also get to pick activities that you enjoy.

How it Works
  • Do one toning video any 3 days per week. Each video will only take you 15-20 minutes to complete, and will work your body from head to toe. We start off with a video that doesn't require any equipment, and then change up the videos every two weeks using resistance bands, a stability ball and dumbbells. If you don't have the equipment, don’t' worry. An "alternative" (see chart) equipment-free workout is offered each week.
  • Do 3-5 cardio sessions per week. This program will gradually progress you from three 10-minute cardio workouts per week to five 20-minute sessions. You decide what to do and how intensely you want to work! You can dance, walk, bike, run, jump rope, swim, use a cardio machine (like the elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike), take a fitness class or try a DVD—anything that gets your heart pumping! The more variety, the better! If you're new to exercise, aim for 5-10 minutes (or as close to that as you can manage, gradually increasing over time). If you've been at it a while, go longer—up to 60 minutes per session—if that suits your fitness level. Click any of the links above for full workout ideas.
  • Follow the plan for 8 weeks. This a great introduction to exercise if you're just starting out, since the videos make strength training easy with detailed instructions on form. But even if you're an avid exerciser, following this plan for a few weeks can add variety to your current program, which can help you bust a plateau and continue seeing results.
  • Get support and extra tips. Join our Challenge Team and you'll get weekly emails reminding you of your workouts, along with bonus food and weight-loss tips created for people with diabetes. Plus, you'll get support and encouragement from others following the plan with you!

Refer to the chart below for your 8-Week Diabetes Weight Loss Workout Plan.

  Strength Training (3 days per week) Cardio
Week 1 Follow the 15-Minute Desk Workout Perform three 10-minute cardio workouts.
Week 2 Follow the 15-Minute Desk Workout Perform three 10-minute cardio workouts.
Week 3 Follow the 20-Minute Band Workout OR this equipment-free alternative Perform three 15-minute cardio workouts.
Week 4 Follow the 20-Minute Band Workout OR this equipment-free alternative Perform four 15-minute cardio workouts.
Week 5 Follow the 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout OR this equipment-free alternative Perform four 15-minute cardio workouts.
Week 6 Follow the 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout OR this equipment-free alternative Perform four 20-minute cardio workouts.
Week 7 Follow the 15-Minute Ball Workout OR this equipment-free alternative Perform five 20-minute cardio workouts.
Week 8 Follow the 15-Minute Ball Workout OR this equipment-free alternative Perform five 20-minute cardio workouts.

I have limited mobility and/or diabetes complications. Will these workouts work for me?
Good question. Talk to your doctor first about what types of exercise are safe and what you should avoid. The 20-Minute Resistance Band Workout above does take place seated, so stick with that workout week to week if seated workouts are the best thing for you. I've also created a series of seated exercise videos that you can use for ideas or as an alternative to the videos prescribed here, including a Seated Cardio Workout, which is great for people with limited mobility of diabetes complications that affect the feet. Use this as your three-times-weekly cardio workout if needed, but keep in mind that other types of cardio exercises (including swimming, an arm "bicycle" called an ergometer, chair dancing/aerobics classes, etc. are also viable options). No plan can be one-size-fits-all, but as long as you're getting moving and aiming for both cardiovascular exercise and muscle-toning exercises throughout the week, you'll be well on your way to a healthier body and heart, improved blood sugar levels, and a trimmer waistline.

What if I miss a day or a week?
If you miss a day, just move forward. This workout plan should be thought of as a guideline, so if you mess up here and there, don't worry—just get back to it!

What if I can't do some of the exercises?
Most of the videos will give you ideas to modify your workouts. But if there's any reason you can't do a certain exercise, don't feel pressured to try it. You can modify it as instructed, decrease your range of motion, use less weight (or no weights), or just skip the exercise entirely. Be sure to listen to your body and work at your own pace. And don't forget to check with your doctor before starting any exercise plan. If you have other mobility or medical issues that restrict your exercise activity, that's OK. You and your doctor know best what is safe and effective for you. So as long as you're working on strengthening your body three days a week--even without using our provided workouts--you're essentially meeting these recommendations and completing the challenge.

Does it matter which days I work out?
You don't have to start on any particular day or week, and for the most part, you can do these strength training video and cardio workouts on any days that work for your schedule. However, for best results, rest from strength training at least one day before doing the video again. Also remember that it is safe to do cardio on the same day as strength training if that works out for your schedule.

What if I don't have time for all of this exercise?
Did you know that your workouts can be split up into smaller sessions and you'll still achieve virtually the same benefits? If you need to, do a portion of the video early in the day, and another portion later. The same goes for cardio—you can split up cardio into 10-minute increments throughout your day to fit it in. If you still don't have the time, reassess your commitment to fitness and to this challenge. Managing diabetes, losing weight, and getting fit does all take time, so carve it out when you can. Otherwise, just do you best to come as close to the recommendations here, as your time allows.

What if I have more questions or need support?
Join our 8-Week Diabetes Weight Loss Challenge Team to connect with other people who are following this workout plan. There, you'll also get weekly emails to help you stay motivated and reach your goals and can "play" for the chance to win weekly and quarterly prizes by participating!

Overall, this workout plan will make sure you're targeting each of your major muscle groups in new ways so that you'll have more fun and be more likely to stick with it! Enjoy!

Selected Source
Exercise Combo Best for Type 2 Diabetes via HealthDay News

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Member Comments

  • I will start strength exercises with bands today.
  • My favorite exercise is riding the bike and then the rowing machine. I hate the tredmill, makes my hip hurt, so I will just use my fit bit and make more steps.
  • Exedrcise makes all the difference w/controlling blood sugar
  • I love this workout plan. Thank You.
  • No time for the workout today - but our Church had a 5 mile prayer walk this morning so I'll settle for that!
  • RIVKAH12
    I was using a treadmill for exercise. It is broken now. So I started doing a cardio workout with spark video.
  • This felt good. I have a frozen shoulder, so I did the arm exercises one-handed;
  • I am not ready to try this exercise program yet. I did not say no. I want to lose a few moe pounds & then I will give it a try.
  • Thanks to those of you in your 70s that have commented here about trying to keep exercising. You are an inspiration to me. I'm in my 50s and disabled and it's so easy to just want to give up. Your positivity will keep me going another day.
  • I will be 70 in August. Like you, the most popular exercise workouts are difficult for me as well, especially things like lunges and squats. I would appreciate any tips on good cardio exercises for aging bones.
  • I will do what I can, like some of the others I have some health issues. At the age of 72 I believe most of us would have issues. Is there anyone that would be willing or able to help the older ones do some exercises?
    With my physical issues there is no way I can get through these! I thought they were geared towards people like me but they are not. I'll have to look elsewhere.
  • Started to watch one of the videos, but three of the first five exercises I could not begin to do with moderate arthritis in both knees and hips. Squats and lunges are not going to happen. I can walk forever on flat ground, but stairs are difficult and incredibly painful.

    I would suggest as an alternative Leslie Sansone's walking videos or the HappyYoga videos. They are much more accessible to me than the "official" things, and when there is something I can't do, I can usually see a simple way to modify the move to make it do-able.
  • KULIA1
    I thought this video would be easy. NOOOOO on those squats and lunges BUT it was GREAT feeling those muscles working. Looking forward to doing this again. Thanks!

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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