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Diabetes: Exercise

The symptoms of diabetes can be controlled to some extent with regular exercise. It should be noted that anyone who is taking medication to control their diabetes should consult with their health care provider before starting any new exercise regimen.

According to, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” (Bull Publishing 2012), exercise is beneficial for people with diabetes in several ways:

  • Mild to moderate aerobic exercise decreases the need for insulin and help controls blood glucose levels by increasing the sensitivity of body cells to insulin and lowering blood glucose levels both during and after exercise,” the authors of the book state.

  • Aerobic exercise can also lead to weight loss and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

  • Exercise can help to reduce stress and negative emotions such as depression, anger, or fear. Even a daily walk can aid in stress reduction.


With a health care provider’s approval, the Mayo Clinic suggests 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activities per week for someone with diabetes. Try swimming laps, walking fast, or bicycling with a coach, friend, or caregiver who will help to motivate and keep the exercise routine on track. For those taking insulin or other medications that can cause low blood sugar, be sure to test blood sugar 30 minutes prior to exercising and every 30 minutes during exercise.

For those who choose not to exercise, consider that inactivity may increase the risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. There is no need to run a marathon or become a weight lifter to be considered active; just tending the garden or taking a walk with a friend counts as being active and can provide many benefits.

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