Exercising With Diabetes

May 2015

Why is physical activity so important when you are living with diabetes? The health benefits of regular exercise include weight loss, stronger bones, improved blood-pressure control, lower rates of heart disease and cancer as well as increased energy levels. If you have type 2 diabetes, regular exercise has special advantages: improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin and helping you manage your blood glucose levels.

Aerobic exercises (such as brisk walking, running, swimming or dancing) work your heart and lungs and carry oxygen to your muscles. Resistance exercises (such as weight training) increase muscle strength and add to the benefits of aerobic exercise. If you decide to begin resistance exercise, you should first get some instruction from a qualified exercise specialist and start slowly.

Your goal should be to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorously intense aerobic exercise each week (e.g., 30 minutes, five days a week). You may have to start slowly, with as little as five to 10 minutes of exercise per day, gradually building up to your goal. The good news, though, is that multiple, shorter exercise sessions of at least 10 minutes each are probably as useful as a single longer session of the same intensity. If you are able and when you are ready, try adding resistance exercises such as lifting weights three times a week.

Start off slowly. Small amounts of exercise, like walking five to 10 minutes a day, can make a difference. If you have been inactive for some time, talk to your family healthcare provider before starting any exercise program that is more demanding than brisk walking.

Source: Canadian Diabetes Association

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