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Diabetes and Exercise

Diabetes and Exercise

Joan Schnorf

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Diabetes and Exercise

Each year, more than 1.7 million Americans are newly diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, a condition that consistently ranks among the top 10 leading causes of death nationwide.

Ninety-five percent of these people are diagnosed with Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, which occurs when the body becomes incapable of effectively using the insulin produced by the pancreas to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels in check. Unregulated glucose can cause a variety of health issues, including blindness, heart problems, and nerve damage.

The good news? Exercise can help.

  1. Your fitness impacts your risk: Being overweight or obese is one of the primary risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, according to multiple research studies. While it is possible to develop Type 2 diabetes, even if you aren’t overweight, having poor physical fitness and dietary habits significantly increases your chances of developing the condition.
  2. Diabetes doesn’t always have symptoms: Approximately one in three people with diabetes are unaware that they have the condition because they’re asymptomatic. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize their health is at risk until their eyes, nerves, heart, or kidneys become severely damaged by dangerous blood sugar swings. It’s never too early to start thinking about how your fitness habits are affecting your long-term health.
  3. Healthy habits could halve your risk of developing diabetes: Men and women who have impaired glucose tolerance – a condition in which blood sugar is elevated but not quite at the diabetes threshold – can reduce their risk of developing full-blown diabetes by 58% by exercising approximately 150 minutes per week and adopting a healthy weight loss diet.
  4. Exercise has a lasting effect for diabetics: A single aerobic exercise session can positively impact insulin sensitivity in a diabetic individual for as long as 72 hours. However, because the beneficial effects of physical activity do decline over time, experts recommend that individuals with diabetes don’t go more than 48 hours in between workout sessions.
  5. Resistance training is helpful (and safe) for people with diabetes: While aerobic exercise is important for diabetics (and for people who want to reduce their risk of diabetes), resistance training is also extremely beneficial. A strength training program increases muscle mass, which in turn revs up metabolism and decreases overall insulin resistance in the body.

November is American Diabetes Month, an opportunity to recognize the lasting impact of this dangerous condition, and to educate the public about ways to minimize their risks.

Diabetes isn’t 100% preventable, but exercise and eating right are two completely controllable factors that will significantly reduce your chances of developing the disease. Want to start your journey toward a healthier body and mind? Call Fitness Together Ellicott City today at (410) 750-2228.

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