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|Step 7: Exercise|
You don’t have to find hours each day to work out in a gym to enjoy the huge benefits of exercise. Dance, walk, swim, garden, play ball, have fun. Gradually work up to at least 30 minutes, 5 days each week. Even that little amount of exercise can catapult your health forward -- even if the exercise is divided into shorter blocks (15 minutes twice a day can be great).
Exercise has great health benefits. You probably know that exercise burns calories, which helps you lose weight. You may also know that exercise improves your cholesterol level and lowers your blood pressure. Together, this helps maintain the health of your heart and blood vessels.
Exercise also makes your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin, meaning that sugar from your blood is able to enter muscle cells. If you have type 2 diabetes, this accomplishes two important goals:
You may find that with a healthy diet and sufficient exercise, you can keep your blood sugar in the normal non-diabetic range without medication.
To improve blood sugar control, achieve a healthy weight, and reduce the risks of heart disease and strokes, you need at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-intense aerobic activity (with your heart rate at 50 - 85% of maximum for your age), OR at least 90 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise (with your heart rate at less than 85% of maximumfor your age).
In addition, you should add resistance training to your routine, unless there is a medical reason to avoid it. The ideal is 3 times a week, targeting all major muscle groups, trying to work up to 3 sets of 8 - 10 repetitions each, using a weight that cannot be lifted more than 8 - 10 times
If exercise is new for you or you've been inactive for a while, check with your doctor to be sure that it is safe for you to start. A stress test, eye exam, and complete neurologic exam may be performed to assess your risk for complications related to diabetes. Once you are given the go-ahead, follow these general guidelines:
The effects of exercise on blood sugar levels can last up to 24 hours. By recording exercise information in your blood sugar log (including types of activities, time of day, and length of workout), you can see patterns that develop and learn to be safe.
Reviewed By: Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Previously reviewed by Elizabeth H. Holt, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (6/17/2008).