New Exercise Guidelines

by David Mendosa Patient Advocate

Even for something as fundamental as exercise, the experts are still fine-tuning their recommendations. And it's more than just fine-tuning. They are saying that we should do more and more.

They now go so far as to explicitly say that "more is better."

Who is this "they" that's telling us what to do? The newest exercise recommendations come to us from The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association, which have updated their physical activity guidelines.

These two organizations teamed up to update their 1995 guidelines. In the dozen years since they last tried to guide us, several other groups have chipped in with their own take.

The biggest exercise controversy has always been how much exercise that we should get. Is it 30, 60, or 90 minutes a day? In 1996 the Surgeon General set a low bar, telling us that we need a total of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. However, the [government's] most recent recommendation is for us to get up to 90 minutes of exercise most days of the week. The American Diabetes Association last year weighed in with its recommendations for "Physical Activity/Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes."

Exercising "most days of the week" has become a minimum of five days per week in the latest guidelines. Personally, I prefer to hike for many hours every other day, except on weekends, when the trails are crowded. I don't know if they would consider me to be "noncompliant," but it seems to work for me.

But the biggest change in the new guidelines is adding resistance training to aerobic exercise like walking and hiking and working out on machines like a treadmill. This strength training or anaerobic exercise is now a core recommendation. As I wrote here a few months ago, "resistance is NOT futile."

The new guidelines are well worth reading. Exercise along with diet and medication are the only three cornerstones that we have to control our diabetes.

David Mendosa
Meet Our Writer
David Mendosa

David Mendosa was a journalist who learned in 1994 that he had type 2 diabetes, which he wrote about exclusively. He died in May 2017 after a short illness unrelated to diabetes. He wrote thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and published a monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 kept his diabetes in remission without any drugs until his death.