It’s well established at this point that exercise is good for you.  Exercise is especially important in regards to cardiovascular health and overall wellness.  However, if you need ONE more reason to lace up those gym shoes and shake your booty, here it is.

A quick review – When the body does not produce enough insulin, blood sugar is elevated to a dangerously high level.  Type I diabetics are born with insufficient insulin production.  Type 2 diabetics become insulin-resistant due to poor diet, physical inactivity and being overweight.  The major difference between Type I and Type II is that with lifestyle changes, Type II diabetics may be able to suspend insulin supplementation.

During exercise, working muscles improve the uptake of glucose.  When this occurs, insulin levels drop.  A similar effect is achieved with insulin injections.  In June 2013, researchers in The Netherlands conducted a study measuring the effects of exercise against diabetic risk and disease.  After a six month exercise program (and no other diet or lifestyle changes), participants experienced body fat reductions around the heart and liver.  The liver regulates the distribution of body fat and consequently, a reduction in adipose tissue around the liver can mean a reduction in body fat elsewhere.

Diabetics can increase their physical activity in a variety of ways.

– Add in tiny bouts of exercise.

– When running errands, park farther away.

– Get up and speak to a co-worker directly instead of calling or emailing.

– When putting away laundry, put away one thing at a time.  Use the stairs when possible.

Find exercise that you enjoy whether it’s a walk around the block, structured exercise classes or playing sports.  Plan your exercise days each week so you have the time and equipment available.

Be accountable for your workouts.  Schedule sessions with a certified personal trainer, make plans with a friend or stay connected with fitness buddies via social media.

Aim to keep your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes.  Steady-state exercise improves cardiovascular health.  Resistance training improves muscular health and strength in addition to improving glucose uptake.

With a regular exercise program, it’s important to factor in diabetic issues that may affect your workouts.  Monitor your blood sugar both pre- and post-workout.  Plan your workouts to follow a meal so you have enough available energy to finish your workout.  Know when your insulin levels peak and avoid exercise during those times to avoid hypoglycemia.  Remember to hydrate before, during and after exercise.  Consult your doctor prior to starting an exercise program.

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