You hear about the importance of diet and nutrition all the time when you have diabetes. It’s true that what you eat and how you eat is essential to controlling diabetes. But regular physical activity is just as beneficial as diet. In fact, regular exercise is one of the most effective tools in diabetes management.
What is the difference between physical activity and exercise?
Physical activity includes all movement that increases energy use. It doesn’t need to have a structured or formal plan: you can make it part of your everyday routine—walking to the bus stop, dancing at a party on the weekend, cutting the grass or chasing your grandchildren.
On the other hand, exercise is planned, structured physical activity.
There are three categories of exercise: aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching.
- Aerobic exercise is an exercise that increases your heart rate and your rate of breathing. When you exercise aerobically, your body uses oxygen as it breaks down fat and glucose for energy. This type of exercise requires you to move the large muscles, which boost the heart rate. Aerobic exercise includes aerobic videotapes, riding a stationary bike, running or walking on a treadmill, taking an aerobics or water aerobics class or using a stair climber.
- Strength training sometimes known as resistance training, helps you build strong bones and muscles. It includes exercises with free weights, weight machines, body weight, or elastic resistance bands.
- Stretching increases muscle and joint flexibility and range of motion so you can move your joints and limbs fully. Exercises that focus on flexibility include yoga, tai chi and Pilates.