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When you exercise, your muscles use sugar for energy, helping reduce your glucose level without added insulin. A study by Mayo Clinic found that regular exercise also helps your body use insulin more effectively.
Exercise, together with your diet and medication, can help keep your levels in line and lead to a healthier life.
Before you begin any exercise plan, talk to your doctor to determine the type and amount of exercise that’s right for you. If you haven’t been exercising much, jumping right back into it might not be a good idea. Your doctor can check your overall health and help you get back into the routine, at a pace that’s best for you.
Once you get the go ahead from your doctor, an important part of an effective exercise routine is to making it just that – routine. You set routines and schedules for the 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 habit that is easy to stick to and hard to break.
The American Diabetes Association recommends two types of exercise to promote a healthy lifestyle. Aerobic exercise “makes your heart and bones strong, relieves stress, improves blood circulation, and 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 target for your aerobic exercise routine.
Strength training also delivers great benefits, it helps build and maintain strong muscles and bones. It 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:
These tips, along with proper eating and medication, can be helpful in managing your diabetes and living a healthier.
Originally published 8/15/2019; Revised 2021
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