Tips for Starting a Routine

Regular physical activity has been shown to have important benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. So, you should select some type of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic (endurance) training, such as walking, running, swimming, or bicycling, that you can engage in for at least 150 minutes per week spread out over at least 3 days per week. For instance, you might take a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day 5 days of the week. In addition to aerobic training, also do some resistance training of moderate- to vigorous-intensity 2 to 3 days per week, and some flexibility (stretching) training. Getting a balance of different types of physical activity will ensure that you are keeping your whole body fit and will add variety to your workout.1

Three basic types exercises you need



Resistance training
  • Weight training
  • Yoga
  • Resistance training
Endurance (aerobic) training
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Walking
Flexibly training
  • Yoga
  • Stretching (passive and active)
  • Pilates

Start slowly and build up gradually

If you find that your endurance is lacking, start with a shorter, less intense routine and build up slowly over time. A good sign that your aerobic training is vigorous enough is if you sweat and feel an increase in your heart rate and breathing. A good tip for how hard you should extend yourself is to find a pace at which you are slightly short of breath, but can still carry on a conversation.

Determining your target heart rate is also a way to make sure that you are working hard enough, but not overdoing it. Check out the simple target heart rate calculator to determine a healthy heart rate target range for your workout. Again, if you find it difficult to put in 30 minutes at a time or to push yourself so that your heart rate is increased, work up to your exercise goals gradually.

The key with a successful training program, similar to a successful diet program, is not to torture yourself, but to make healthy changes that you can stick with for the long term. With this in mind, find a group of friends that you can exercise with. This will make your workout a fun, social event and give you plenty of the support and encouragement you need.

Figuring out your target heart rate (HR)

Subtract your age from 220 for your maximum HR 220 – YOUR AGE (example: 50) = 170
Subtract your resting HR from your max HR 170 – RESTING HR (example: 70) = 100
Multiply the answer by 0.7 and 0.5 0.7 X 100 = 70 (70% of max reserve HR)
0.5 X 100 = 50 (50% of max reserve HR)
Add your resting HR to each of these numbers to get your target HR range 70 + 70 = 140 beats per minute
50 + 70 = 120 beats per minute
While you are exercising your heart rate should stay between 120 and 140 beats per minute

Stages of exercise

As you plan your training program, especially an aerobic workout such as walking, running, bicycling, or swimming, it helps to understand the stages of exercise. The three main stages include the:

  • Warm up
  • Aerobic activity
  • Cool down

These stages are really a way to help you listen to your body during exercise. If you know these stages, you will be much less likely to overdo it when you are working out. Your body needs to start activity slowly and build up intensity gradually. This is why it is important to spend some time warming up before you enter your target range for heart rate. Once you’ve entered your aerobic phase, your muscles will be ready for full exertion. When you’ve finished the aerobic phase of exercise, whether you spend 30 minutes or 45 minutes or more in your target heart rate range, your body will need to slow down gradually. This is the cool down phase of exercise. It allows you to gently taper down your physical activity in preparation for the finish.

Warming up

Your warm up should consist of gentle stretching, especially focused on the muscles that you’ll be using during aerobic training or during resistance training. Warming up is a good way to avoid pulling muscles when you really start exerting yourself. Flexibility and range of motion exercises are perfect for warming up. If you’ll be walking or running, try gently stretching your hamstrings and calves. As a rule of thumb, you should spend at least 10 minutes warming up. Work slowly and gradually during your warm-up: don’t overdo it. During your warm up, try doing whatever movement or activity that you’ll be doing for your aerobic training, but more slowly and deliberately. Then try doing a few minutes of stretching. Before you start your aerobic activity, your muscles should feel stretched and ready to perform.

Aerobic activity

As you start your aerobic activity, make sure there is a comfortable transition from warm up into full aerobic training. That is, go slow and gradually. Make sure you take note of the time (or use a stopwatch timer) so that you are spending enough time in the aerobic phase of your training routine. Your goal is to spend 30 minutes exercising with your heart rate at its target range. You may need to build up your endurance over time so that you can achieve this goal. So, when you start your training routine, do as much as you can do comfortably and work up to 30 minutes gradually. Remember the expression: “Rome was not built in a day”.

Cooling down

Cooling down properly after your exercise routine is every bit as important as warming up. You should never stop an aerobic training activity abruptly. If you are running for exercise, cool down by jogging for a few minutes, then walking for a few minutes. If you are walking for exercise, cool down by walking more slowly. The goal of your cool-down is to let your heart rate and breathing return to the normal range in a gentle and gradual manner. Another important part of your cool down will be to do a few more gentle stretching exercises, such as hamstring or calf stretches.

Things to keep in mind as you start your training program

Start slowly, stay within your ability
  • With any type of exercise or activity, it is important not to overdo it, especially at the start
  • If you feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or have tightness in your chest, stop and call your doctor immediately
Get some supervision
  • You should start your training program under the supervision of a trained health professional, such as a physical therapist
  • By working with an experienced professional, you’ll be able to develop the right kind of program and get valuable advice about how to get the most out of exercise without injuring yourself
  • A physical therapist or trainer can help you set goals, such as targets for heart rate and breathing, and monitor you so you don’t overdo it
Warm up before exercise
  • You should warm up for at least 10 minutes before you start your endurance or strength exercise
  • Be careful during your warm up not to over stretch: work carefully and gradually
Make sure to cool down after
  • Make sure to cool down gradually
  • For instance, after running or cycling or brisk walking, you might walk slowly until your heart rate has returned to the normal range



Written by: Jonathan Simmons | Last reviewed: May 2014.
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