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Diabetes and Exercise

Diabetes and ExerciseExercising with type 2 diabetes is safe and highly recommended for most people. Combining a healthy diabetes diet with exercise – cardio and strength training – can help control blood sugar. In fact, this one-two combo may even eliminate your reliance on insulin and other medications. It’ll also help you achieve a healthy body weight and give you more energy to complete everyday activities.

Benefits of exercise and regular physical activity

There are many benefits to exercising, and they’re even greater for people who are managing diabetes or those working at reversing pre diabetes. Here’s a look at some of the incredible benefits of exercise:

  • You’ll improve your muscle strength, bone density, and stamina.
  • You’ll lower your blood pressure.
  • Exercise and healthy eating will help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, thus reducing your risk of blood vessel and/or heart disease.
  • You’ll improve blood circulation.
  • You’ll enjoy increased energy levels.
  • You’ll reduce your stress, release tension, lower anxiety and promote your overall well-being.

Blood sugar levels: the link between diabetes and exercise

While exercise is good for everybody, the link between regular exercise and diabetes is especially beneficial. You may not know it, but exercise – everything from strength training, aerobics, cardio workouts to neighborhood walks or a game of ultimate Frisbee – has very specific benefits for diabetes sufferers: Exercise can help improve your body’s use of insulin.

Here’s the skinny: The long-term benefit of regular physical activity is that you’ll burn calories and excess body fat, helping you to lose weight. As you decrease your body fat, your body will be more sensitive to insulin. But exercise can also provide immediate benefits, starting from the moment you take your first step or do your first crunch. As you exercise, your body pulls extra fuel (that would be glucose) to power your efforts and feed your muscles. During short bursts of exercise, your liver will release glucose for fuel. And as you exercise more regularly, your muscles will gobble up glucose at about 20 times the normal rate, helping lower and regulate your blood sugar levels.

Talk to your doctor before exercising with type 2 diabetes

As with any new diet or exercise program, talk to your doctor before starting a new regimen. This is especially true for diabetics, since exercising can actually spike blood glucose levels immediately after activity. If you have very high blood sugar already, this can present a health risk. So always, always speak to your physician before incorporating exercise into your diabetes maintenance routine, and ask about the best way to monitor your glucose levels during and after exercise.

Best exercises for type 2 diabetes

Any and all exercise can be great for your health and help control diabetes. Both aerobic and strength training can help control blood sugar, since both have been linked to lower blood sugar levels and decreased body weight. And if you’re into flexibility exercises, like yoga and pilates, good news – these are beneficial, too. If you’re looking to get great bang for your exercise buck, try these on for size:

  • Strength training
  • Weight lifting
  • Aerobics
  • Exercise machines (treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc.)
  • Spinning
  • Swimming
  • Yoga or pilates

Exercise tips for diabetics

If you’re not a fan of the gym or if you don’t have time for formal exercise everyday, that’s not a problem. There’s still plenty you can do. If you’re really tight on time, try to get active as your do your household chores. That could mean jogging around while you vacuum or dancing as you wash the dishes. Whatever it is, make it as fun as possible. In your free time, buddy up with a friend or family member to take walks around your neighborhood. Take the stairs at work. Sign up for a local league sport, like soccer or basketball. Do whatever appeals to you. The key is consistency, so try to get active for about 30 minutes a day.

Formulating your diabetes and exercise plan

A smart way to manage type 2 diabetes is through a nutritious eating plan and regular exercise. And the best way to blend the two is through a program customized just for you. The physicians at The Center For Medical Weight Loss are uniquely qualified to evaluate your condition from both a medical and nutrition standpoint and explain the connection between diabetes and weight loss.  Your personal physician will work closely with you to build a diabetes and exercise plan that emphasizes your favorite foods and preferred exercise, all while keeping your blood sugar at safe levels. Get started today by entering your zip code into the box at top right and contacting the Center nearest you. And don’t forget to ask about newcomer specials, available at some Centers!