Diabetes: The Importance of Exercise

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Physical activity, in whatever form you enjoy, is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle and can have long-term benefits, especially for individuals with either type of diabetes. Regular exercise can not only set you on the path to improve your blood pressure and cholesterol, but it has also been proven to help lower blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity. Exercise can also help you sleep better, improve your mood and reduce stress.

Aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, biking and jogging, have been proven to improve glucose control, cardiovascular risk factors and help lower blood sugar levels.  It is recommended that individuals participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 90 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Find an activity that you enjoy and do it! Practicing a form of exercise you like will help you stay motivated and will improve your mood better than an exercise you dislike.

Resistance, or strength training, is also a great way to help improve insulin sensitivity and boost your metabolism. Strength training is also a good option for individuals with other health concerns that make it unsafe to participate in aerobic exercises. It helps increase lean muscle mass, which burns more calories while the body is at rest, and improves bone mineral density that helps fight osteoporosis. It is recommended that an individual practices resistance training two to three times a week, incorporating eight to ten exercises of ten to fifteen repetitions each.

Before beginning any exercise routine, it is always important to consult with a healthcare professional to approach fitness in the safest, most beneficial way.  The team of registered dieticians and diabetes educators at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center is dedicated to educating diabetic patients throughout the community on how to manage their disease through proper nutrition and exercise.

Spokesperson Background:

Laura Watson is a registered dietitian specializing in pediatric nutrition at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Laura received a Bachelor of Science in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007 and earned a Master of Science in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2009.

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