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Physical Activity


Lt Col Reynolds
Physical activity can help prevent diabetes by contributing to weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. It also makes muscle cells more sensitive to insulin and better able to utilize glucose in the blood. So physical activity can help prevent glucose from building up in the bloodstream. Capt Laydon, as a physical therapist, can you tell us more about the importance of physical activity in preventing diabetes?

Capt Laydon
Certainly, Dr. Reynolds. The more physical activity you do, the more calories you burn. Remember, burning calories is an important part of losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight because it balances out the calories you take in through food and drink.

For most adults, the recommendation is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week. This can include brisk walking, dancing, swimming, jogging, biking, or any other physical activity that raises your heart rate. If you haven’t been active, start out slowly and work your way up to 30 minutes a day. You can also split up the 30 minutes of activity throughout the day, doing 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

Resistance or strength training is important too. It is recommended to do some type of weight or resistance-band exercises two to three times a week to build muscle tissue. This muscle tissue helps increase insulin sensitivity.

Building physical activity into your day can make it seem less burdensome. For example, start or end the day by taking your dog or a friend’s dog for a walk. When you go shopping, park further away from the entrance. Walk or dance around the room, or do sit-ups or leg lifts when you watch TV. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Deliver messages to your coworkers in person instead of sending emails.

Another great tool for increasing physical activity is counting steps. Many smartphones include a pedometer feature, or you can download a pedometer app. There are also watches and bracelets that count steps. Or you can buy an inexpensive pedometer that clips onto your waistband or belt. You may have to build up to it, but aim for 10,000 steps a day.

Choose activities that you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick with it and reach your goal if you enjoy the activity. Exercising with other people can also keep you motivated. Find a workout buddy or a walking partner, or take a class.