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Diabetes Exercise Benefits

Why You Should Exercise When You Have Diabetes

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help manage type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes—and you don't even need a prescription for it. But what specific benefits does exercise have for people with diabetes?

One of the most important benefits of exercise for diabetes is that exercise can help manage your blood glucose levels—even hours after you've stopped exercising.

Another significant benefit of exercising with diabetes is that it builds muscle. Muscles are the tissues in your body that use the most glucose, and they can help keep blood glucose levels from soaring.

Below are some additional benefits of exercise for people with diabetes.

  • Boosts your body's use of insulin
  • Creates a feeling of well-being and fosters a positive attitude
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Enhances your energy and mood
  • Helps you lose weight and maintain your weight
  • Increases good (HDL) cholesterol and reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol
  • Keeps your heart, bones, and joints healthy
  • Lowers your overall body fat
  • Promotes relaxation by reducing stress, tension, and anxiety
  • Reduces risk of diabetes complications, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure

For quick exercise tips, read our article about exercise tips for diabetes.

Fortunately, you don't need a gym membership to exercise. A brisk walk around your neighborhood for 30 minutes 5 days a week1 after dinner is enough to reap the benefits of exercise. Adding weight lifting and stretching (eg, yoga) to the mix will help you notice results even faster.

To stay safe when you're exercising, wear a medical ID bracelet that shows you have diabetes or find a workout buddy you can exercise with.

Even though exercise has numerous benefits, you should still talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine. He or she may need to make adjustments to your medications or meal plans.

Also, try to follow a consistent routine: Exercise, eat, and take your medicine (if you need to) at the same time every day because this will help you better regulate your blood glucose levels.

Exercise boasts an assortment of benefits that can help you manage type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes long-term, but it's a life-long commitment. Stick with it because it's an essential part of living a full, healthy life with diabetes.

Updated on: December 3, 2012
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