Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
Exercising and especially walking is considered to be one easy yet super effective way to control diabetes, according to Dr Manoj Kutteri, Wellness Director at Atmantan Wellness Centre. He further guides us on the importance of walking in diabetes.
Exercise, in general, helps improve blood circulation thereby improves the utilisation of circulating glucose by the muscles, reducing insulin resistance and improving utilisation of glucose.
Top benefits of walking for diabetics include:
- Exercise can make you feel happier and relieves stress, promotes the secretion of serotonin which is otherwise known as the happy hormone.
- Exercise can treat mood swings – both depression and anxiety disorders.
- Exercise or walking helps to improve circulation.
- Walking is also one of the best ways to reduce the blood pressure and to exercise the heart.
- Exercise improves skin and respiratory functions and thereby helps in elimination of toxins from the system.
- Induces quality sleep, which is one of the major indicators of good health. 
- Walking, in particular, helps in reducing the belly fat, which is one of the contributing factors for type 2 diabetes. 
- Exercise can reduce the sensitivity for pain by the release of endorphins.
- Regular exercises have shown to improve insulin sensitivity and hence important in the management of diabetes.
- Exercise can improve brain functions and boost memory.
- Exercise also helps to increase libido and sexual functions.
Take a 15-minute walk after every meal:
Unless you are not experiencing any abdominal pain or discomfort, a 15 min post-meal walk is a great way to improve digestion process and also to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. One has to start walking slowly and then do slow acceleration for up to 15 – 30 mins.
The post-meal walk helps to draw the glucose from the bloodstream to be used up by the muscles and also avoid the sugar spikes that usually happens immediately after eating.
Too busy to stay active? Here are some tricks to exercise in a busy schedule.
But yes, do push your goal gradually:
It is recommended that a minimum of 10,000 steps a day is ideal for diabetes. However, this should not be your target right from the beginning. Set up a target based on your ability and endurance and start pushing yourself towards this target. Once you reach this target if you can push further, one can step this up again. One thing to keep in mind is that you have to keep on motivating yourself to accomplish your wellness goal.
Before you start exercising, read our expert tips on how to exercise safely when you have diabetes.
Walking indoors or outdoors – what’s better and why?
Indoor (using a treadmill) and outdoor walking, both have pros and cons. But by the end of it, it all depends on the intensity and the variations one can provide to the walking and the location.
Here is the comparison between using the treadmill and walking outdoors:
Benefits of walking indoors:
- No excuses to skip the walk – no matter the weather outside.
- Lets you record how much you walked, although many gadgets are also available now for recording these even when outdoors.
- Excellent tool to burn the calories and also to maintain the correct posture and form. The surface is even and hence, it helps to adopt a correct and even posture throughout.
- Beneficial if you have a medical condition that requires you to use the bathroom unexpectedly.
- Great level of security, especially when outdoor walking is not possible in a non-secured zone or in a polluted area.
Benefits of walking outdoors:
- Being outdoors is great for your mood and mental health.
- Fresh air (in non-polluted areas, of course) and getting your daily dose of sunlight (Vitamin D) do wonders for your health.
- Based on the walking route, there is a greater opportunity to burn more calories on a natural route than on a treadmill. Also, a treadmill, it does a small percentage of work for us.
Finally, people with diabetes should keep in mind before walking:
- To start with, make a plan – what time of the day, how much time, discuss with your doctor and identify a walking route
- Start at a moderate pace but increase it once every few days. Ideally, your walk should make you sweat, and your heart rate should go up. If you’re just strolling around, talking to friends or on your phone, it shouldn’t be considered a good walk.
- Always drink a glass of water before the walk and keep some natural sweets, dry fruits or fresh fruit in hand. Carry water with you.
- If you are on medication, it must be taken after the walk.
- Unless there are no associated diseases or joint problems, one should plan for good cardio where you will be walking at a minimum of 65-75% of your maximum heart rate zone
- Walking should not be done after a prolonged gap in between meals.
- Emi Morita, corresponding author1 Makoto Imai,2 Masako Okawa,3 Tomiyasu Miyaura,4 and Soichiro Miyazaki3 A before and after comparison of the effects of forest walking on the sleep of a community-based sample of people with sleep complaints. Published online 2011 Oct 14. doi: 10.1186/1751-0759-5-13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3216244/
- Hye-Ryun Hong, Jin-Ok Jeong, Ji-Young Kong, Sang-Hee Lee, Seung-Hun Yang, Chang-Duk Ha. Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women. Published online 2014 Sep 10. doi: 10.5717/jenb.2014.18.3.277. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241903/