Learn more about how exercise and diet help you fight for better health.
Learn more about how exercise and diet help you fight for better health.
Living Healthy Wellness and Fitness, Whitaker Point, Arkansas

April -- National Defeat Diabetes Month

While some people are born with diabetes, those who develop diabetes as children or adults can take action to manage this condition by making changes to have a more healthy lifestyle. Exercise and diet are the two best combatants for fighting for better health after a diabetes diagnosis. In this edition, learn about the benefits of exercise and how to plan ahead when eating out.

Diabetes: The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can lower blood sugar, help control weight and boost your mood. It can also improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, help you use oxygen more efficiently and improve heart health. Even a small amount of regular activity can have a big impact on your health.
What can exercise help?
Blood sugar. Regular exercise improves blood sugar control by helping your body use insulin.
Mental and emotional health. Physical activity relieves stress and helps you sleep better. 
Heart health. With regular exercise, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. You can also improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Weight. Exercise helps you lose fat, gain muscle and control your weight.
Health of blood vessels and nerves. Activity helps lower blood sugar. This helps prevent damage to blood vessels and nerves that can cause problems with your brain, eyes, feet and legs.
Finances. If you manage your blood sugar, you may spend less on medical care.

2 types of exercise

Two types of exercise help your body use blood sugar. Experts advise both types of exercise for people with diabetes:

Aerobic exercise. This is a rhythmic, repeated, continued movement of large muscle groups for at least 10 minutes at a time. You should do this about 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. Examples include walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming, water aerobics and many sports.

Resistance exercise (strength training). This type of exercise uses muscles to move weight or work against resistance. You can do it with free weights, machines, resistance tubing or your own body weight. Adults with diabetes should aim for 2 to 3 sessions of resistance exercise each week. It’s best to skip a day in between.

A goal to shoot for:

Your main goal is to become more active. Even a little bit helps. Choose an activity that you like. Walking is one great form of exercise that everyone can do. Talk to your health care provider about any limits you may have before starting with an exercise program. Then aim for 150 minutes a week of physical activity. Don’t let more than two days go by without exercise. When you are sitting for long periods of time, get up for short sessions of light activity every 30 minutes.

Getting activity into your day

Being more active doesn’t have to be hard work. Try these to get more activity into your day: 
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Garden, do housework and yard work
  • Choose a parking space farther from the store
  • Walk to talk to a co-worker instead of calling
  • Take a 10-minute walk around the block at lunch
  • Walk to a bus stop a little farther from your home or office
  • Walk the dog after dinner

Eating out when you have diabetes

Eating right is an important part of keeping your blood sugar in your target range. You just need to make healthy choices.
Tips for restaurant meals
When you eat away from home try these tips:
  • “Try to schedule your dining-out meal at your normal meal time. Make a reservation if possible, so you don't have to wait to eat,” said Mandy Tennyson, one of the registered dietitians at UAMS. “If you can't make a reservation, try to arrive at the restaurant at a less-busy time to cut down your wait time. Eat a small fruit or starch snack at your regular mealtime if your restaurant meal is going to be later than usual.”
  • Call ahead to see if the restaurant can meet your dietary needs if you've never been there before. Or you can go online to see the menu ahead of time.
  • Carry some crackers with you in case the restaurant needs you to wait until you can be served.
  • Ask how foods are prepared before you order.
  • Instead of fried, sautéed or breaded foods, choose ones that are broiled, steamed, grilled or baked.
  • Ask for sauces, gravies and dressings on the side.
  • Only eat an amount that fits your meal plan. Remember that you can take home the leftovers.
  • Save dessert for special occasions. Then choose a small dessert or share one with a friend or family member.
Make healthy choices
Fast food
Garden salad with light dressing on the side
Baked potato with vegetables or herbs
Broiled, roasted or grilled chicken sandwich
Sliced turkey or lean roast beef sandwich 
Chicken enchilada, without cheese or sour cream
Small burrito with whole beans and chicken
Whole beans (not refried) and rice
Chicken or fish fajitas
Grilled or broiled lean cuts of beef
Baked potato with vegetables or herbs
Broiled or baked chicken (don’t eat the skin)
Steamed vegetables 
Steamed dumplings or pot stickers
Broiled, boiled or steamed meats or fish
Sushi or sashimi
Steamed rice or boiled noodles (a 1/3 cup serving)
Healthy recipes to cook at home.
To learn more visit the UAMS Health Library.

Have a healthy, active month!

Spring Meal
Person testing for diabetes blood sugar
April Events in Arkansas
9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m.
All day
North Little Rock
For more events in Arkansas, visit Arkansas Outside.
Subscribe to our email list.