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Healthy Aging

The Latest on Exercise and Diabetes: How Much and What Kind?

By Sheryl Kraft

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Lately there's been a lot in the news about diabetes. Not only am I reading about the alarming rate of its growth – in the next 25 years, the number of Americans living with diabetes will nearly double – but its cost to the economy is staggering. Over the same period, spending on diabetes will almost triple from $113 billion to $336 billion. And that will happen even without any increase in the prevalence of obesity, researchers at the University of Chicago report.

The study's lead author, Elbert Huang, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, was quoted as saying,  "If we don't change our diet and exercise habits or find new, more effective and less expensive ways to prevent and treat diabetes, we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble as a population." (To read the full story on Medical News Today, click here.)

Lifestyle goes a long way in combating or controlling diabetes – and one healthy item to embrace is exercise, which helps lower blood sugar levels.  New recommendations are for people who have Type 2 diabetes to get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. If you don't have diabetes but are at high risk for getting it (family history and overweight are strong risk factors for type 2 diabetes), combining physical activity with modest weight loss can lower your risk of developing the disease by 58 percent.

Newest findings on the exercise-diabetes connection: use a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training. A new study finds that patients who performed aerobic exercise or resistance training alone did not yield the same improvement in glycemic levels as those who combined the two types of exercise.

The combination is thought to work the muscles in different ways, since muscles consume sugar and stronger muscles leave less sugar behind in the blood, which is advantageous to diabetics. Better yet, the risks for complications from diabetes, like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, nerve and eye damage can be significantly reduced.

Healthywomen.org is filled with information on diabetes, including an overview of the disease, its most common symptoms, how to manage it and more. It’s important reading for everyone, even if you don't have the disease - but especially if you do. I urge you to take a moment to read some really important health information by clicking through the following links:

12 Simple Ways to Fight Prediabetes

How To Maintain a Healthy Blood Sugar

When It's Time for Insulin: Understanding Your Options

How to Inject Insulin

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This is such important information. Sometimes I want to shrug off exercising, but then I read posts like yours and I'm reminded to keep at it.

I didn't know this - thanks for bringing it to my attention. It's something I worry about since it runs in my family

Early in my clinical career I worked in a diabetes clinic for kids and teens. It wasn't something people talked about much then, 20+ years ago. It's incredible that this is a topic I see now so often in the news and all over the Internet.

Those are some scary statistics - and isn't it always a good idea to do a combo of aerobic/resistance exercises regardless of whether or not you're diabetic?

Forwarded this to my sister who is diabetic. thanks for keeping up with the current research.

This post really reminds me how much I need to work on exercising on a regular basis. I never would have realized that that there's such an important connection between diabetes prevention and exercise.

My husband has had diabetes twice - once after his liver transplant and again after losing a kidney. He's been able to exercise and eat himself right out of it and currently does no insulin. It works!

Yet another benefit of combining aerobic exercise with resistance training. I'm guilty of hopping off of the eliptical after my aerobic workout and heading for home. From now on, I'm stopping by the weight machines before walking out the door. This is good advice even for non-diabetics.

One of my nephews-in-law was just diagnosed. I'm going to send this to over to him. Great info. Thanks!

This is a terrible disease. Exercising and paying attention to your diet are a small price to pay to avoid it. Still, I hate hearing I need to do resistance training. Doesn't yoga count for something?

Thanks for this good information. Sadly, several people I know are suffering from diabetes.

The statistics are staggering. I read somewhere that it has to do with endocrine disruption, due to all the toxic chemicals that surround us more and more. Today I read that the government puts BPA on new dollar bills. My husband's mom had diabetes, so I am going to get him to read this post, even though it's for healthy women!!

Good to know that combining aerobic and resistance training is such a great preventative measure.

I find this whole topic fascinating. Exercise and diet are the two simplest ways to improve your health, yet still so many people wait until it's too late to live well.

Great post. Exercise is so often neglected in our society and always seems relegated to something anyone would do if they just had enough time. So your post is important for not just individuals but the health of our society.

Those are some impressive numbers (not in a good way!). I find it interesting that mixing up the type of exercise makes a difference in impacting diabetes. I've been walking several times a week for an hour or more, but maybe I need to mix it up a bit.

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