Exercise and Blood Sugars

Next to dieting, exercise is the single most effective thing you can do to control your blood sugars. No single exercise is the best, but anything that gets you moving — and the muscles working — is good. Exercise improves the way insulin works, uses up (metabolizes) glucose, and helps with weight loss. Both aerobic exercise (moving your muscles without any tension, such as running or walking) and anaerobic exercise (minimal moving of muscles, but against a lot of tension, for example lifting weights) will help lower your blood glucose. Aerobic exercise is generally recommended over anaerobic, as it may help your heart more by improving your cardiovascular fitness.

There are different exercise recommendations for improving your glucose and for improving cardiovascular fitness. For the latter, exercising three to four times a week is optimal. For glucose control, the more the better. If you want to exercise daily, glucose control would benefit.

If you exercise, you’ll need fewer glucose-lowering pills, and less insulin, if you are on it. Indeed, you may need different medication regimes on exercise days and on days that you’re not exercising.

Other benefits of being active — apart from better blood sugars and better sensitivity to insulin — include improved flexibility, less body fat, lower blood pressure, better HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), greater strength and stamina, better muscle tone, better ability to deal with daily life stresses, higher metabolism and better sleep.

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