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Physical activity vs. exercise: The power of movement

group of people sitting in circle stretching and exercising, how to not get hurt while exercising, warm-up and cool-down stretching muscles

We have all heard that exercise is good for your health! So, what is the difference between physical activity and exercise? Physical activity is defined as any movement that is carried out by the muscles that require energy.

Exercise is a physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive and intentional. You will often times hear the words used interchangeably. Exercise has many benefits: helping you control your weight and blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of heart disease, improving your mental health, mood and brain function, strengthening your bones and muscles, reducing the risk of falls. Learn more about The Benefits of Exercise from MedlinePlus.

diabetes collage with meal prep, healthy food, notebook and pencil, dumbells and exercise meal plan with healthy workout eating healthy and exercising

How long should I excerise?

When someone living with diabetes begins an exercise program or changes their program, it is good to be mindful of safety. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and American Heart Association (AHA) recommend aiming for 150 minutes a week (30 minutes, 5 days a week) of physical activity.

Sometimes people are not ready to tackle the entire 150 minutes. However, even 10 minute bursts a few times a day help you to meet the goal. During the winter months, it is safer to walk in the house. Many people walk during the commercial breaks of a 1 hour television program. Do you know how much walking that is? Twenty minutes – try it out!

middle-aged white woman working out exercising and taking blood sugar to show how exercise affects blood sugar

How does exercise affect my blood sugar?

Exercise lowers blood sugar by improving the way cells uptake and use insulin and glucose (sugar). It is extremely important that you know how exercise affects your blood sugar and that you are prepared to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Always carry your meter and hypoglycemia treatment with you.

Also, if your blood sugar is above 250 mg/dl, do not exercise until checking with your doctor or diabetes educator.

group of people sitting in circle stretching and exercising, how to not get hurt while exercising, warm-up and cool-down stretching muscles

How to prevent injuries while exercising

Preventing injuries is a key strategy in staying active. Here are some tips to keep you safe while you exercise:

Learn more safety tips from the American Diabetes Association.

To learn more about these topics and living successfully with diabetes, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about referring you to a diabetes educator or enrolling in the Diabetes Education Program at NMC Health.

To find out more, or to sign up for our Diabetes Support Group, get in touch with our certified Diabetes Educator, Patty Corning at patricia.corning@mynmchealth.org or by calling (316) 804-6147.

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