Exercise and Diabetes

It’s estimated that more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes. You may think diabetes relates only to what you eat and drink, but exercise habits greatly impact management and control of the disease. Physical activity can:

  • Help lower blood glucose and other biometric measurements such as blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • Lower your risk for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes
  • Relieve stress (which impacts glucose levels)
  • Improve blood circulation and muscle tone
  • Keep your joints flexible

The American Diabetes Association activity guidelines for 2016 call for a more active lifestyle and recommend three or more minutes of light activity every 30 minutes during long sedentary periods. Light activity can include:

  • Leg lifts or extensions
  • Overheard arm stretches
  • Desk chair swivels
  • Torso twists
  • Side lunges
  • Walking

You may now be asking yourself what kinds of physical activity are best. A complete routine calls for four kinds of activities:

  1. Continuous activity. Set your alarm to get up, stretch, or walk around the house or office every 30 minutes.
  2. Aerobic exercise. For diabetes maintenance and prevention, aim for 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. If you haven’t been active recently, start small with five to ten minutes each day instead of 30; or split up your total exercise time into smaller, more frequent segments.
  3. Strength training. With more muscles, you burn more calories. Strength training should be done several times a week. Consider lifting weights at home, or joining a class that uses weights and elastic bands.
  4. Flexibility exercises. Stretch gently for five to ten minutes to warm your body up for a workout, and to cool down afterward. Yoga is a great form of exercise for flexibility.

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