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Exercise & Diabetes
The Added Benefit of Exercise in People with Diabetes
You are no doubt aware that exercise can help prevent the serious
complications that often come with diabetes and heart disease.
Research has repeatedly shown that regular physical activity
helps reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack or a
stroke, aids in weight loss, and improves mood.
But do you know that exercise can also help you reduce your blood glucose
That's right. In people with type II diabetes, exercise may improve insulin
sensitivity and assist in lowering elevated blood glucose levels
into the normal range.
Here's how. When you exercise, your body uses more oxygen -- as much as 20
times more -- and even more in the working muscles, than when
you are at rest. So the muscles use more glucose to meet their
increased energy needs.
At the same time, exercise improves the action of insulin in the peripheral
muscles, making it more efficient, so you get more out of the
insulin your body is producing.
In older people with diabetes, the decrease in insulin sensitivity that
comes with aging is also partly due to a lack of physical
activity. So regular exercise benefits you now, and for years to
Sometimes, it may seem easier to pop a pill or even take a shot than to put
on your walking shoes and hit the trail. But the truth is that
exercise, in combination with a healthy diet, is one of the best
things you can do to take care of yourself if you have diabetes.
Exercise burns calories, which will help you lose weight or maintain a
Regular exercise can help your body respond to insulin and is known to be
effective in managing blood glucose. Exercise can lower blood
glucose and possibly reduce the amount of medication you need to
treat diabetes, or even eliminate the need for medication.
Exercise can improve your circulation, especially in your arms and legs,
where people with diabetes can have problems.
Exercise can help reduce your cholesterol and high blood pressure. High
cholesterol and high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack
Exercise helps reduce stress, which can raise your glucose level.
In some people, exercise combined with a meal plan, can control type II
Diabetes without the need for medications.
Sources: National Diabetes Data Group. Diabetes in America, 2nd edition.
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