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Exercise plays an important role in helping people with diabetes keep blood sugar levels in target range.

Staying active is important for everyone. For people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and obesity, exercise plays an even greater role in managing day-to-day health. For those with diabetes, the best thing about exercise is that it can help you keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.

According to US guidelines, all adults should get 150 to 300 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like walking), 75 to 150 minutes each week of vigorous aerobic exercise (like running), or some combination of the two types of exercise. Experts also strongly recommend lifting appropriate-sized weights or doing some form of resistance training.

A few key points about exercise that are worth noting:

  • Losing weight and building muscle reduces insulin resistance, which is one of the underlying factors that cause type 2 diabetes. Most diabetes drugs reduce blood sugar, which is a symptom of type 2 diabetes and leads to complications. This is good, but diet and exercise work to address the root cause of type 2 diabetes.
  • It isn’t easy to lose weight and keep it off permanently after gaining it. But even small improvements do really make a difference!
  • There is no consensus on the best way to lose weight, although successful tips include keeping a food diary, having a regular exercise program, and having people supporting you. Many obesity specialists agree that the ‘best’ diet is simply the one that works best for you.
  • Even small levels of activity, such as walking after meals, can help reduce A1c.
  • Exercise can help prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes.