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The Importance of Exercising with Diabetes

By Michael Henderson

Exercising with diabetes is important!

Aerobic exercise, even without significant weight loss, improves glycemic control and by reducing inflammatory effects, it also reduces risk of heart attack.

Aerobic exercise also:

  • reduces blood pressure
  • improves cholesterol levels by lowering LDL and raising HDL 
  • decreases body fat, thereby decreasing the body’s resistance to the effects of insulin
  • decreases A1C enough to decrease the risk of complications of diabetes

How much exercise is needed?

Studies call for at least 150 minutes per week which equals 30 minutes per day, five days per week.

What kind of exercise is required?

Exercise should be a combination of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking at least 5 days per week, combined with resistance training (commonly called weight-lifting) 3 times per week. The ideal resistance-training program should target all major muscle groups and consist of 8 to 10 repetitions at a weight that cannot be lifted more than 8 to 10 times.

IMPORTANT: Before beginning an exercise program, consult with your personal healthcare provider! For those with Type I diabetes, check your blood sugar just before, just after, and 3-4 hours after an exercise session.

Michael Henderson, PA-C, is a Physician’s Assistant at Valley-Wide Health Systems.