Doctor of Medicine

Diabetes is a disease that can progress with time if not properly controlled. It’s a constant vigil: You have to exercise regularly. You must avoid eating food rich in sugar today, tomorrow, and the day after that for as long as you breathe and eat. You get the drift.

Imagine this scenario. “Are you sure you want that?” your spouse tells you as you reach for a slice of decadent chocolate cake. “You don’t want your blood sugar to spike again.”

diabetes cake
Sounds familiar? Is it the story of your life? Well, you are not alone in your chronic battle against diabetes.

For healthy people, pancreatic beta cells regulate the bloodstream for glucose with glucose transporters based in their cellular membranes. After a meal, when blood glucose increases, beta cells absorb this additional glucose and respond by producing insulin in a measured and timed response.  Insulin stimulates other cells in the body to take in glucose, the nutrient needed to produce energy.

But for people with diabetes, insulin is either inadequate or ineffective. Glucose stays in the blood instead of being absorbed and used by the cells.


Diet and exercise are the two important variables that can help control diabetes and form as basis for treatment.  With diet, proper carbohydrate intake without compromising caloric intake throughout the day is necessary to achieve a near-ideal body weight. Maintaining a healthy weight will lower lipid levels and blood glucose.

Exercise, on the other hand, helps lower blood glucose. Exercise also decreases insulin resistance, allowing insulin to regulate glucose levels effectively.

Although exercise is commonly used to describe any bodily activity that enhances health and maintains physical fitness for overall wellness, you might actually need a special exercise regimen if you have diabetes.

By following an exercise regimen recommended by your doctor, you achieve better blood sugar regulation and reduce your risk for cardiovascular problems. Exercise also boosts your immune system – and you know how prone you are to infection if you have diabetes.

Tips to Exercise

The New You Boot Camp, which is currently offering programs that aid in fitness and weight loss, recommends the exercise tips below. These exercises include fast-paced walking, light jogging, bike riding, rowing, playing badminton, or water aerobics. (You can follow them on Twitter for more tips, by the way.)

  • Consult a doctor for the appropriate exercise for you.
  • You can start with a 30 minute stretching a day.
  • Gradually increase your exercise routine, if you are just starting.
  • Get motivated to exercise regularly by having a partner to exercise with.
  • Use some cues to remind you of your exercise.
  • Reward yourself for having exercised or failed to do so.
  • Plan an exercise schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
  • Always remember that work alone is not exercise.

Diabetic Medications

While diet and exercise are a must, medications also play an important part in diabetes control. The choice of medication depends on the type of diabetes you have: type 1 or type 2.

Oral medications improve insulin release from the pancreas and lower blood glucose. Different medications work on the liver, intestines, muscles, pancreas, and fat cells. Your physician will determine which mix of medications can best treat the type of diabetes you have.

Medications for diabetes may also take the form of injections. Insulin is injected to the body to add to your body’s own insulin supply. It reduces blood glucose, acting either immediately or gradually within a 24-hour period. Your physician will tell you what type of insulin you need and how much, based on your glucose levels before and after food intake.

Of course, your compliance to medication and exercise protocols should be balanced by a healthy diet intended for people with diabetes. You already know what’s bad for you. Don’t wait for your partner to slap your wrist while you’re reaching for dessert.



Stef dela Cruz is a doctor-columnist who received the Dean Bacala Academic Excellence Award from the University of Santo Tomas and the Health Media Award from the Department of Health. She is the human of three cats and a dog. Stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – she won’t sue.

3 Responses to How to Control Diabetes with Exercise

    • Stef

      Hi, Maggie! Feel free to join our Diabetes Forum here on TalkHealth and people with diabetes (and the many health professionals joining in the conversation) will be happy to tell you about the many symptoms and signs of diabetes. 🙂 We hope you find the information you need in the forum.

      on August 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm Stef

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