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Diabetes Still Isn't Easy
Diabetes Still Isn't Easy

FDI is dedicated to diabetes education, nutritional counseling, and wellness programming.

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Twenty Minute Diabetes Exercise

Zumba for dance lovers, yoga for the serene, karate for your inner Miyagi...it seems like there is and exercise program to suit every personality. But if you have diabetes, you might wonder which, if any physical activities are right for you. 

According to the American Diabetes Association 2012 Clinical Practice Recommendations, people with diabetes can reap huge gains from 20 minutes of moderate activity per day. That means you don’t need to run a six hour marathon to get healthy: all you need is 20 minutes!  Wondering how exercise can help improve your life? Here’s just  few ways: 

  • better blood sugar control
  • less risk of heart disease
  • improved mood
  • weight loss

The even better news is that you can get these benefits when you exercise even if you do not lose weight. Sometimes it can be hard to see why you should keep moving if the scale isn’t budging, but remember, physical activity does wonders no matter what your waist size. 

For maximum benefit, try to spread your activity over at least three days of the week with no more than two days in a row without exercise. Want to up the ante? Add resistance exercise twice per week to help boost your insulin sensitivity!

If you fall into the category of “recovering couch potato” and are wondering where to start, here are a few easy activities to think about trying (you can gradually increase the frequency and duration as you feel comfortable): 

  • Go for a 10 minute walk.
  • Get off the bus or subway a stop early and walk the rest of the way to your destination..
  • Put on your favorite fast-paced music and dance for 10 minutes
  • Take the steps instead of the elevator.
  • Try a beginners class (spinning, aerobics, Zumba) at your local gym if you are a member.

You might be thinking that 20 minutes a day sounds tough to fit into your busy schedule. If you don’t have 20 straight minutes to devote to moving, try getting your physical activity in 10-minute bursts. The great thing about exercise is that even though more is usually better, every little bit will help!

Just a quick note that you should check with your doctor before you start a new exercise plan if you have any of these complications:

  • heart problems
  • tecent surgery
  • neuropathy
  • proliferative retinopathy

If you suffer from any of these, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise, it just means you need a bit more individualized attention to make sure you are exercising safely.  

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About the Author


Megan is a nutritionist and diabetes educator at the Friedman Diabetes Institute in New York.