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  • Juanita Weaver-Reiss

How does activity help with the heart and health?

This is the final piece for the 5th element of the 9 essential things to know if you have diabetes.

I have already talked about three other factors that can help to improve heart health. These even improve health in general. These were food choices, stress management, and social connections. If you missed the posts, here are the links.

On to the topic of activity and how it benefits the heart and health

Activity (notice I did not say exercise) provides you, your heart, and overall health many benefits.

  • Reduces blood pressure

  • Reduces Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL's)

  • Can increase High Density Lipoprotiens (HDL's)

  • Can help with glucose levels by increasing your body's sensitivity to insulin

  • Helps with weight loss and also weight maintenance

  • Daily activities are better tolerated - able to move with less fatigue

  • Improves the ability of the blood vessels to dilate - improves the delivery of oxygen to muscles during activity

  • Improvements in bone health

  • Improves sleep

  • Reduces stress

  • Lowers feelings of depression

  • Lowers feelings of anxiety

  • ???? - Did I miss anything?

I tend to say that is quite a list of benefits that seems to help the heart as well as the head.

Having diabetes and being more active - a quick guide

It is important to point out that some action steps should take place. For instance, talking to your health provider about what you plan to do for your activity. There could be certain activities to be avoided if you have issues with your eyes, kidneys, or have neuropathy. Talk to your doc and get feedback if the activity that you choose is okay for you to do.

Start small and slow.

If you take insulin or are on oral meds that work directly on your pancreas, there are specific guidelines for exercise that you will need to follow to prevent low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia).

I would suggest talking with a diabetes educator about the specific guidelines for activity so you can stay safe while you become more active.

Aim to move for 30 minutes on most days.

You do not have the 30 minutes all at one time. In fact, it may be useful to have small sessions of moving/activity instead of the longer session of 30 minutes at a time.

See my blog post about doing 3 minutes every 30 minutes for a way to increase your activity.

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