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When you exercise, your muscles use sugar for energy. This helps reduce glucose levels without added insulin. A study by Mayo Clinic found that routine exercise also helps your body use insulin more effectively.
Exercise, together with diet and medication, can help keep your levels in line and lead to a healthier life.
Before you start any exercise plan, talk with your doctor about the type and amount of exercise that’s right for you. If you haven’t been exercising much, jumping right back in might not be a good idea. Your doctor can check your overall health and ease you back into a routine, at a pace that’s best for you.
An important part of an effective exercise routine is making it just that — routine. You set routines and schedules for other important things in your life. Most people go to work around the same time, take the same routes and eat at roughly the same times each day. Why should exercise be any different? Find a time you know will work every day and stick to it. Consistency helps exercise become a health habit.
The American Diabetes Association suggests two types of exercise to promote a healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercise makes your heart and bones strong, eases stress and improves blood circulation. It also reduces your risk for heart disease by lowering blood glucose and blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels. Walking, jogging, running and swimming are all good forms of aerobic exercise.
You don't have to run a marathon. There are many ways to get up and moving each day. Find one that's right for you. The National Diabetes Education Program has a few suggestions.
If approved by your doctor, 30 minutes a day is a good goal for your aerobic exercise routine.
Strength training also gives great benefits. It helps build and maintain strong muscles and bones. It also makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can lower your blood sugar. Muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you are resting, so increasing your overall muscle mass helps you stay leaner and healthier. Strength training doesn’t necessarily mean power lifting at the gym. In fact, you don’t need weights at all to get started. Here are few things the SilverSneakers® program suggest you try.
Along with these tips, eat healthy foods and take your medication as directed. Together, they can help you manage your diabetes and enjoy a healthier life.
Originally published 8/15/2019; Revised 2021, 2024
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