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Exercise can help you manage diabetes

Exercise is one part of a balanced three-part plan to manage diabetes that also includes medication and diet. All three of these elements are important to help balance blood glucose levels.

While the word exercise sometimes carries a negative connotation, it doesn’t have to. You can add physical activity to your daily routine in many enjoyable ways. Walking in the park, gardening, biking and dancing are among the many activities you can choose from to add physical activity in your life.

But why is it important that you add exercise? There are three main ways that exercise helps control glucose:

  • Physical activity makes cells more efficient at using insulin — both what the body makes and what is injected.
  • Muscle contraction stimulates cells to take up glucose independently of insulin.
  • Lean muscle mass, which is increased through exercise, boosts your body’s metabolic rate and that burns more calories.

As you add physical activity to your routine, positive changes won’t happen overnight.

But stick with it, and you will see the benefits, which may also include weight loss. The National Institutes of Health reports that studies show that people with type 2 diabetes who lose weight with physical activity and choose a healthy diet are less likely than others to need diabetes and heart medications.

One Via Christi associate, Russ Locks, a pharmacy technician at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, has worked to implement changes in his lifestyle. Watch his story below. 

The great part of exercise for diabetics is that it can reduce blood glucose levels for up to 24 hours afterward. It’s never too late to start reaping the benefits of physical activity. Remember, no matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch!

About Colleen Farrington RN

Colleen Farrington, RN, is a patient education specialist at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg.