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Diabetes and Exercise

Diabetes - insulin injectionYES!  If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, exercise is extremely important in helping to combat and manage the disease.  According to the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation, exercise helps to lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, improve circulation, lower blood glucose levels (glucose is now stored in the body’s muscle) and reduce body fat.  Additionally, exercise stimulates the body’s muscles and their bodies become better at transporting glucose.  The result of regular exercise can be reducing their medication.

So you ask, “How much exercise?”  It is recommended that adults should exercise at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week (preferably 7 days).  As discussed in a previous post, you can do the 30 minutes all at once or break it down into 10 minute intervals spread throughout the day.  Moderate activity is perceived by some breathlessness, breaking a sweat, using your muscles but still be able to hold a brief conversation.  It is also important that strength training be a part of your exercise regimen.  Walking is a great, inexpensive way of getting more exercise as is taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Before you start, it is important that you get a medical clearance particularly if you haven’t been exercising.  Start slow, with 5-10 minutes of activity per day for the first week and then add on 5 minutes each day.  Exercises should be low intensity to start and it is important to monitor your blood glucose before, during and after exercise.

If you are not diabetic but have elevated blood sugar levels (see the website for other risk factors), are sedentary and overweight, you are pre-diabetic and could be at risk for Type 2 diabetes.  The good news is that you can turn this around by losing weight and getting into a regular exercise program.  Reducing your portion sizes, limiting processed foods and adding fiber to your diet are just a few of the lifestyle changes you can make to prevent Type 2 Diabetes.  Key to remember:  Type 2 diabetes is preventable!

The bottom line:  For help in managing or preventing your diabetes, exercise plays a key role.  To make sure you stick with it, find something you enjoy doing or do it with a friend.   You will get added benefits in preventing other disease and age-related problems!

For more information on diabetes, risk factors and what you can do to manage or prevent the disease, please visit the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation or American Diabetes Foundation.  For help in finding resources in your area, go to Diabetes Local.

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