People & Diabetes - Helping You Live Well
HomeWhat is Diabetes?Do I Have Diabetes?Pre-DiabetesType 1 DiabetesType 2 DiabetesGestational DiabetesDiabetes TreatmentDiabetes DietExercise and DiabetesDiabetes TestingDiabetes MedicationsEmotions and DiabetesDiabetes ComplicationsDiabetes StoreAbout UsContact UsSite Map
Why should you be more active?

Enter subhead content here

Why should you be more active?

Understanding the benefits of exercise for diabetes control

By Nina Nazor

Why do you have to exercise when you have diabetes?

The answer is simple: exercise is like taking a diabetes pill, when you exercise, you burn up the glucose in your blood and your blood glucose concentrations drop. Ain't that great?
Your body is like a car. A car needs fuel to move, and your cells burn up the glucose in your blood, which is their fuel, whenever you do any physical activity. This is the way exercise lowers your blood glucose levels.

Exercise also helps your cells be more sensitive to the action of insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. Normally, when the pancreas releases insulin, the insulin links to certain receptors in your liver, fat and liver cells that function like doormen to let glucose come in and be converted into energy or be stored as fat. Exercise helps these receptors work properly and allow glucose to enter your cells.

Other benefits of exercise are:

•  Improve the function of your cardiovascular system.
•  Reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL).
•  Help insulin work better.
•  Help you control your weight.
•  Decrease your stress level.
•  Increase your general sense of well-being.

To measure the effects of exercise in your blood glucose concentrations, check your glucose before and after exercise, and you’ll see how your blood glucose changes.
A word of caution, you should be aware of hypoglycemia, specially if you are on medication or insulin. Exercise can make your blood sugar drop too low so you should always carry glucose gel or tablets with you.

Please have a medical checkup before you start an exercise program

This is important, especially if you are over 35 or you have a health problem besides diabetes. Your doctor should check your heart, arteries, eyes, kidneys, and blood circulation in your feet to make sure you do not have any problems that could get worse with exercise.

If you have any doubts about the role of exercise in controlling diabetes, remember that your healthcare team will have the answers.