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How does physical activity impact diabetes?

Two women in exercise clothing jogging across a pedestrian bridge.
How does physical activity impact diabetes?

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it's especially impactful if you have type 2 diabetes. For example, physical activity:

  • Relieves stress
  • Strengthens the cardiovascular system
  • Builds muscle
  • Improves flexibility, stamina and endurance
  • Leads to better quality sleep
  • Helps with weight management, blood sugar levels, balance and coordination
  • Reduces anxiety, depression and fatigue

There are many types of physical activities, including flexibility, strength, endurance and aerobic options. Regardless of the type, it's important to build up your fitness level over time. Start slow and gradually increase your activity, working toward 30 minutes of various exercises five days per week.

While most types of activities are safe for people with type 2 diabetes, some precautions are necessary. Be sure to balance meals and medication with exercise since exercise lowers blood sugar levels. Often, people with type 2 diabetes find that it's ideal to exercise two hours after a meal, but always check with your diabetes educator or healthcare provider on what's best for you. And if you feel dizzy, faint, nauseous, sweaty or clammy—whether before, during or after exercise—stop whatever activity you're doing or avoid starting. These are all symptoms of low blood sugar.

Ready to learn more?

Learn how to better manage your diabetes by checking out our six-week virtual workshop Healthy Living with Diabetes. Topics covered include physical activity, healthy eating, monitoring, stress management, understanding emotions, medication, communication, avoiding complications, decision making and more.

Register now

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bodyweight exercises to try at home
Bodyweight exercises to try at home

By Hannah M. Cornell, PTA, Physical Therapy Gundersen Boscobel Hospital and Clinics Don't have access to a gym or equipment? No worries, bodyweight exercises can be just as effective by

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