Exercise for Diabetics

Research shows that exercise can help diabetics — especially the fifteen million Americans with Type 2 diabetes — regulate blood sugar and live longer!

A twelve-year study of Type 2 diabetics found that those who exercised regularly had many positive results:

  • Improved blood sugar control
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Weight loss
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced stress

Exercise can actually make cells more responsive to insulin! And you don’t need to be running a marathon every day. Just thirty minutes of moderate exercise more than three days a week is enough to help manage blood sugar. As long as you are up and moving more than you do right now, your body will benefit.

Here’s why it works: when you exercise, your body is burning up more oxygen. Your muscles will use more glucose for fuel when you are in motion. A body at rest isn’t motivated to use up that glucose.

If you are a Type 2 diabetic, take the test! Try adding a 30 minute, moderately paced walk to your day. Keep track of your blood sugar and watch the numbers go down. Exercise may not be a replacement for oral medicine and/or insulin, but it may help reduce your dosages.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
  2. Wear appropriate shoes and socks. Diabetics can suffer from neuropathy, a loss of sensation in the hands and feet.
  3. Keep an eye out for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Exercise an hour after you eat, and carry a snack in case you start to feel weak or shaky.
  4. Stay hydrated while you exercise! This is just good general advice for everyone.
  5. An exercise partner will help you stick to your exercise program.
  6. Try to exercise at the same general time of day, and for the same amount of time. This will help your body learn better insulin response — if your body always exercises at the same time, your cells will expect to process glucose at the same time.

You can find some other great ideas for starting and sticking to an exercise program in our Fitness Blog!