The Importance of Exercise in Preventing Diabetes

Exercise benefits people with diabetes as well as those at risk for diabetes by helping to manage weight, by improving blood sugar levels and by improving heart health. For a diabetic, exercise is just as important as diet and medication. The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity that increases the heart rate five days per week.

It is important to design a lifelong exercise routine that is attainable, sustainable and enjoyable. Walking is one of the easiest and most convenient options, but you may want to explore new options, as well. If you adhere to a steady, regular program, you can expect these outcomes:

  • Increased insulin sensitivity (insulin works better)
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Increased energy and endurance throughout the day
  • Weight loss with increased muscle tone
  • A healthier heart and lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep at night
  • Stronger bones and a lower risk of osteoporosis
  • Better resistance to illness
  • Improved cholesterol, heart rate and blood pressure levels
  • Lower stress, anxiety, boredom, frustration and depression

The American Diabetes Association recommends two different types of exercise for managing diabetes: aerobic and strength training. 

Aerobic Exercise

This exercise is done by using your arms and/or legs in a continuous, rhythmic movement in order to increase your heart rate. Examples include running, dancing, biking, swimming and walking. Be sure to pick an aerobic exercise that you enjoy and set realistic goals. 

Strength Training

In addition to aerobic activity, the American Diabetes Association recommends doing strength training exercises at least two times per week, but not two days in a row. Examples of strength training include using weight machines, free weights, resistance bands, and doing bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, lunges and sit-ups. 

As with any exercise program, always consult your doctor before beginning to be sure it is medically safe. 

If you are struggling with how to make sure you get the proper exercise five days a week, I can help.  Contact me for a customized exercise plan and suggestions on how to make your diet diabetic-friendly.

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