May 13, 2019

Why is exercise so important for people with diabetes?

A hallmark of type 2 diabetes is the inability of cells to respond to insulin, which is known as insulin resistance. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood and you get a high blood sugar reading. Physical activity helps to improve insulin sensitivity. The insulin your body produces, or that you inject, is better able to help the muscle and fat cells to use the sugar in your blood when you exercise regularly.

Physical activity also improves your mood. Diabetes and depression may be linked, and exercise can reverse depression symptoms. As little as 10 – 15 minutes of exercise per day can have a noticeable effect on how you feel.

Is 15 minutes enough to improve blood sugar? That can take a little more effort. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you “get moving” somehow for 150 minutes per week — or 30 minutes a day, five days a week. This is the minimum amount that has shown significant improvement in blood sugar, cholesterol and weight.

Exercise also burns calories, which along with a healthy diet can contribute to weight loss. Exercise and weight loss have been shown to decrease certain risk factors associated with diabetes, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Over time, the heart can learn to pump more efficiently, allowing for improved blood flow and decreased risk for stroke and other associated heart diseases.

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