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Integrated Diabetes Services

Exercise & Diabetes: Getting Active for a Better Today, and More Tomorrows


diabetes and activityThe Joslin Diabetes Center recently released results of a study looking at rates of complications from long term diabetes.

The study looked at the experiences of Joslin 50-year medalists (patients with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes for greater than 50 years)

It was found that physical activity plays a major role in reducing risks of cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is on the rise in America, and the rates of death due to cardiovascular disease are over 20% higher in those diagnosed with diabetes than in the average population.


What can you do to reduce cardiac risks?

The Center for Disease Control recommends:


  • 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (brisk walking, playing with the grandkids, swimming)
  • at least 2 muscle strengthening activities weekly (resistance exercises, or weight baring exercises that involve all major muscle groups; i.e. lifting, yoga, push mowing the lawn.)


  • 60 minutes a day of physical activity is recommended, with three of those days including muscle building and bone strengthening activities (such as calisthenics, gymnastics, jumping rope or running)

Physical activity strengthens the muscles of the heart, which works to reduce blood pressure and lower stroke risk.
When our hearts can beat more effectively circulation to hands and feet improves, this reduces the risk and impact of neuropathy and infection.  Strength training builds strong bones in children and reduces osteoporosis risk in adults.  It also builds muscle which helps raise our metabolism. The higher our basal metabolism the easier it is to maintain a healthy weight which improves insulin sensitivity.  As the study demonstrates, increasing activity can improve blood sugar control in the short term, and reduce complications in the long term.

The Joslin 50-Year Medalist Study highlighted a significant role of exercise in long-term survival with diabetes.

Exercise is also a great stress reliever and mood enhancer.
Let’s face it, diabetes can be stressful! Many people with diabetes suffer from burn out, increased stress hormones, poor sleep, depressed moods and irritability. Physical exercise has been shown to reduce all of these issues. In managing diabetes we must learn to approach new circumstances with healthy caution, but not allow diabetes to prevent us from living fully. This is true of new foods, new technologies, and new habits as well.  Exercise is too healthy and helpful a habit to avoid just because it can be complicated.

As Dr Hillary Keenan of the Joslin Diabetes Center study states “We’re big proponents of exercise, We understand the initial fears about maintaining blood glucose control during exercise. But people don’t need to be scared; they just need to start their exercise with supervision. Exercise physiologists and diabetes educators can help with that.”

Diabetes educators can be the best resource to have on board when starting or changing an exercise routine. From guidance on how to manage blood sugar changes with exercise, to how to best fuel your body to make the most of your work out, an experienced guide can save a lot of frustration and fear.  Contact Integrated Diabetes Services for an appointment to discuss how to make getting more active part of your wellness plan!

Whether you are getting active for the first time, staying active into retirement or maximizing your athletic performance, the most important step is the first one! Take that step today!

Read more on the Joslin 50-Year Medalist Study.

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