If you're not a regular exerciser already, take a long, hard look at all the obstacles keeping you from choosing a healthier—even a diabetes-free—life and choose to try to overcome them. If you're active, but others around you are not, help them also figure out how to make increased physical activity possible in their daily lives. We all have to work together to make these changes happen, and the time to start doing something is now.

What should you do to get started and stay motivated to reap these and other health benefits for the rest of your life? To gain the most from your physical activity, follow these simple tips:

  • Do some sort of physical activity on a regular basis (at least every other day, if not more often) for better blood sugar control
  • Keep in mind that all of the activity you do counts – including both formal exercise programs and unplanned or daily movement—and simply try to move more all day long
  • Whenever you have a few spare minutes, do something active like walking around or in place, doing armchair exercises, or stretching
  • Try to add in some planned exercise, such as brisk walking, stationary cycling, or swimming, on a regular basis
  • Start out slowly, erring on the side of caution with any exercise program or new physical activity, and check your blood sugars frequently
  • Add in some resistance or weight training at least one day a week (preferably two to three nonconsecutive days)
  • Stretch all of your major muscle groups at least twice a week to prevent loss of flexibility, improve balance, and reduce risk of falls
  • Respect your physical limitations, and make accommodations for them to avoid any undue injury
  • Make certain to include a warm-up and a cool-down period, especially when undertaking more strenuous exercise

The key to good blood sugar control is frequent, regular physical activity. Most of the glucose-lowering effects of exercise are due to improved insulin action in muscle, but that effect only lasts for a day or two. To maintain these blood sugar effects, you have to exercise regularly. A minimum of 3 to 5 days per week of aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, swimming, etc.) done at a moderate to intense pace for a total of 150 minutes per week is the current recommendation. For people with type 2 and gestational diabetes, daily or near daily activities are better for blood sugar control. With type 1, predictable exercise makes blood sugars easier to manage. Regardless of your type, test your blood sugars regularly to learn your body's response to different activities for optimal control.
To sign up for 5 free healthy living reports via e-mail, go to www.lifelongexercise.com, especially to get the report on easy core exercises to do at home. For more information, also check out my web site at www.shericolberg.com. If you need tips for getting started on an exercise program, I recommend The 7 Step Diabetes Fitness Plan. For people with any type of diabetes who are more active, consult the Diabetic Athlete's Handbook.

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NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

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Last Modified Date: February 15, 2013

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