We know that regular exercise has many benefits, including enabling you to have better control of your blood sugar and blood pressure than if you were not physically active.
If you have diabetes, exercise provides much needed help for your pancreas in reducing blood sugar. When you exercise, sugar is pulled out of your bloodstream. Exercise increases the amount of blood sugar absorbed by muscle mass in your body. It also speeds up your metabolism.
Fat cells need very little energy to survive. In contrast, muscle requires much more energy throughout the day. Exercise not only burns calories, but increases your metabolic rate, thus increasing the amount of calories that your body burns, even when you’re sitting still. Since leg muscles are one of the biggest muscle groups in the body, riding a bicycle or simply walking is beneficial as it increases both your muscle mass and your metabolism.
EVERY BIT COUNTS
When you think about your work and school schedule and your family and home to-do list, the idea of spending an hour or two exercising each day may be off-putting. You’re too tired. You simply don’t have the time.
For your health, try your best. Begin gradually by adding movement to your day. Park a little further from your office or from the store. Better yet, walk if you can. Take the stairs instead of using the elevator. Small improvements throughout the day, when combined, can make a difference. The American Academy of Family Physicians has simple device when it comes to exercise: 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Here’s the good news: Taking the stairs instead of using the elevator counts towards that amount of time. Parking a bit further from where you’re going also works. Walking to work, walking to the store and walking your dog all matter as well. Combining all of these activities counts towards daily exercise, and can make a tremendous improvement in your blood sugar control if you have diabetes.
IS THAT CANDY WORTH A WORKOUT?
The old saying that you are what you eat may be overused — but it’s absolutely true. If you look at food as a potential source of energy, then when choosing what to eat you may want to ask yourself: “If I eat this, what is it doing for my body, and what is it costing my health?”
The average piece of candy contains about 30 calories, which doesn’t sound like much. However, most people only burn about 30 calories after running an entire lap around a track. So eating four pieces of candy would cost you an entire mile of running (that’s quite a lot of exercise!) just to get back to a baseline level of metabolism. Once you keep this in mind, you may think twice before taking a bite of that candy.
Sometimes medicines are used to assist with achieving enough blood sugar control. Metformin, which is used in many patients with diabetes, is also used often in patients with prediabetes, in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes.
Metformin works in several ways, many of which are used in combination with exercise. Metformin helps to stimulate muscle to pull sugar out of the bloodstream. When combined with exercise, it can be an excellent medicine to help people with diabetes lower their blood sugar or even help those with prediabetes prevent further advancement towards diabetes.
Healthcare providers advise that both diet and exercise should be used as a first line treatment for people with diabetes to achieve adequate blood sugar control. If diet and exercise are not enough to reach your goals, you should discuss the use of medicines with your provider. But it may be possible for you to have excellent blood sugar control with diet and exercise alone.