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Diabetes: The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can lower your blood sugar level, help you control your weight, improve your circulation, lower your blood pressure, and improve your heart health. It can also boost your mental outlook. Even a small amount of regular activity can greatly improve your health.

Woman walking up stairs.
Take the stairs whenever you can.

What Can You Improve with Exercise?

  • Blood sugar: Regular exercise has been shown to improve blood sugar control. Exercise helps your body use insulin.

  • Mental and emotional health: Physical activity relieves stress and helps you sleep better.

  • Heart health: With regular exercise, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. You can also improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

  • Weight: Exercise helps you lose fat, gain muscle, and control your weight.

  • Health of blood vessels and nerves: Activity helps lower blood sugar. This helps prevent damage to blood vessels and nerves that can cause problems with your brain, eyes, feet, and legs.

  • Finances: If you manage your blood sugar, you may spend less on medical care.

Two Types of Exercise

Two types of exercise help your body use blood sugar. Both types of exercise are recommended for people with diabetes.

  • Aerobic exercise is of rhythmic, repeated, and continuous movements of the same large muscle groups for at least 10 minutes at a time. Examples include walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming, water aerobics, and many sports.

  • Resistance exercise (strength training) is using muscles to move a weight or work against a resistive load. Examples include weightlifting and exercises using weight machines.

A Goal to Shoot For

Your main goal is to become more active. Even a little bit helps. Choose an activity that you like. Walking is one great form of exercise that everyone can do. Talk to your doctor about any limits you may have before starting with an exercise program. Then aim for 30 minutes of activity most days of the week.

Getting Activity into Your Day

Being more active doesn’t have to be hard work. Try these to get more activity into your day:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator

  • Gardening, housework, and yard work

  • Choosing a parking space farther from the store

  • Walking to talk to a colleague instead of calling

  • Taking a 10-minute walk around the block at lunch

  • Walking to a bus stop a little farther from your home or office

  • Walking the dog after dinner

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 1/1/2008
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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