How to Control Diabetes With Exercise


The three cornerstones in the treatment of diabetes are food, medications, and activity. Of these three, activity is often a first choice for the person who has diabetes. Moving toward a more physically active life is generally inexpensive, convenient, usually produces great rewards in terms of blood glucose control and a general feeling of well-being.

Whenever you actively use a muscle, you burn both fatty acids and glucose. During and after periods of activity, your falling glucose level is sensed by the beta cells in your pancreas, and they relax their output of insulin.

This gives your beta cells a break from excessive insulin production. In addition, the lower insulin levels signal your liver to empty its glucose reserves (glycogen) into the blood to supply the muscles with needed energy.

As physical activity continues, the liver converts amino acids, lactic acid, and fats into glucose to supply the muscles. If the activity continues long enough, even the body’s fat cells are affected. They compensate for the reduced fatty acid levels in your blood by converting their stored triglycerides into fatty acids.

When all of these steps are considered, it’s easy to see why using your muscles is the perfect treatment for diabetes.

Exercising can:

  • Lower blood glucose
  • Lower Fatty Acid levels in your blood
  • Reduce the workload of your pancreas

Becoming more physically active is not completely without risks for people with diabetes. On the other hand, remaining sedentary is no bargain, either; it does nothing to help your glucose control, your weight management, or your overall well-being. To gain the benefits of increased physical activity and minimize potential risks, you need to understand and evaluate those risks up front and take steps to prevent problems before they occur.

Before you increase your activity level, you need to account for any diabetic complications or related conditions that may be present. Some types of activity may not be wise for people with certain medical conditions. Any activity that includes straining, such as weight lifting, can dramatically increase blood pressure during the actual activity, further aggravating any hypertension that may be present.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.