Everyone agrees that exercise is good for you. The goal for most people should be at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, pus strength training two days a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But what if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, that makes exercise difficult-or raises your concern about injury?

While exercise is helpful for most chronic health problems, some activities are likely to be easier, more beneficial and less risky than others.* Best workout if you have diabetes...

Exercise can lower blood sugar almost as well as medication. Recent guidelines for people with diabetes recommend 150 minutes of moderate to strenuous aerobic exercise weekly, in addition to three strength-training sessions that work all the major muscle groups-increasing muscle mass is believed to be a particularly effective way of controlling blood sugar.

All aerobic exercises are beneficial, but those that use both your upper- and lower body muscles are best because they help deliver blood glucose to muscle cells throughout your body-try an elliptical machine, the Schwinn Airdyne (a stationary bike that adds arm movements) or NuStep (a recumbent stepper that incorporates arm movements). If you walk, use poles to involve your arms. Try to do some type of exercise every day-this helps ensure its blood sugar-lowering benefits.

If you use insulin on a regular schedule: Exercise at the same time each day, if possible, to help maintain even, predictable blood sugar levels. Insulin should typically be used 60 to 90 minutes after your workout-check with your doctor or diabetes educator.

To prevent excessive drops in blood sugar: Eat something before or just after exercise and adjust your insulin dose on the days you work out. Talk to your doctor for specific advice.

*Always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. If you have a chronic illness, it may be useful to consult a physical therapist for advice on exercise dos and don'ts for your particular situation.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in