30-Minute Walking Workout for Diabetes

Couple Brisk Walking on Boardwalk
Couple Brisk Walking on Boardwalk. Lars Klove Photo Service/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Brisk walking workouts can help you maintain a steady blood sugar level and body weight if you have Type 2 diabetes. A 30-minute walk at least five days per week is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association for people with diabetes. Consult your health care team to see if walking is the right exercise for you and any precautions necessary for your individual circumstances and adjustments to your medications or diet.

Walking Goal: To walk for 30 minutes, with at least 20 continuous minutes at a brisk pace of 15 to 20 minutes per mile (3-4 mph.)

What you will need:

  • Walking shoes and socks: You need to protect your feet and prevent developing blisters or sores. Get fitted for flat and flexible athletic shoes at the best running shoe store in your area. Avoid cotton socks and tube socks and choose athletic socks or diabetic socks made of sweat-wicking polyester fiber.
  • Walking clothing: You need good freedom of movement and you need to prevent chafing, which can lead to sores. Wear a fitness t-shirt and fitness shorts, warm-up pants or yoga pants. Sweat-wicking polyester fabric is preferred over cotton.
  • Where to walk: You can use a treadmill for your walking workout. If you prefer to walk outside, you should look for a walking route where you can walk withe few interruptions to cross streets. Using a track at a nearby school is an option, or look for a greenway path or a park with a walking loop.
    More: 14 Points to the Perfect Walking Route

    Walking Workout

    1. Get Ready to Walk: Prepare for your walk with a few moves to get your body ready. Stand up.  Loosen up your shoulders and neck with a few shrugs and shoulder circles. Loosen up your legs and hips by marching in place for a few seconds. If you like a full stretching routine, use our Walking Warm-Up Stretches
    1. Adjust Your Posture: Posture is very important to being able to walk fluidly at a brisk pace. Take a moment to get into the right walking posture. Stand up straight, with your eyes forward and your chin parallel to the ground. Engage your core muscles by pulling in your stomach and tilting your hips slightly forward as you tuck in your rear. Now straighten up by pretending there is a string attached to the top of your head and, with feet flat on the ground, raise yourself up from your hips to the top of your head. Relax your shoulders with another couple of shrugs. Bend your arms. Now you are ready to walk. More: Walking Posture
    2. Walk at an Easy Pace for 3 to 5 Minutes: Use the beginning of your walk as a warm-up to get your blood flowing to your muscles and to continue to tweak your walking posture. An easy pace is one where you could sing or carry on a full conversation without any heavier breathing.
    3. Speed up to a Brisk Pace for 20 to 25 Minutes: Now now want to move into a brisk walking pace to achieve moderate exercise intensity that has the best health benefits. Move your arms faster in coordination with your steps to help pick up the pace. A brisk walking pace is one where you are breathing heavier but you can still speak in sentences. You want to aim for 50% to 70% of maximum heart rate. Use our Heart Rate Zone Calculator to find the right range for your age. Take your exercise pulse to see if you are in the moderate intensity zone.
    1. Cool Down for 1 to 3 Minutes: Finish your walk by walking at an easy pace. You may want to end with the stretching routine.

    Not Enough of a Workout?
    If you have difficulty raising your heart rate into the moderate intensity zone, use my tips for how to walk faster to pick up your pace. You can also raise your heart rate by adding incline to a treadmill workout or using a route with hills and stairs for an outdoor workout.

    Using fitness walking poles or Nordic Walking can also raise your heart rate at a slower pace.

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