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The Best Habits if You Have Diabetes, Say Physicians

Time to adopt these habits.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Diabetes is a serious condition in which chronically elevated blood sugar raises your risk of severe health problems like heart disease, stroke, dementia and blindness. If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, it's important to follow your doctor's advice to get and keep the condition under control, so you can reduce your chances of developing major complications. These are the best habits to adopt if you have diabetes, according to physicians. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Get Regular Exercise

woman doing tabletop exercise with weights on yoga mat

To manage diabetes, physical exercise is key. Exercise increases the size of muscles and makes muscles sensitive to insulin, which enables your body to better utilize insulin levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. That can involve something as easy as light walking. Experts recommend incorporating both aerobic exercise and strength training for maximum health benefits.


Eat a Balanced Diet

Woman holding a slice of cucumber

"Managing diabetes means maintaining healthy blood sugar levels," says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Along with proper medication and physical activity, this also requires balancing the foods you eat." Their tips: Eat a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy carbs like whole grains, less fat and less salt. Observe regular mealtimes and watch portion sizes.

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Quit Smoking

Man Smoking On Bright Sunny Day Outdoor

Smoking isn't healthy for anyone, but if you have diabetes, smoking is particularly risky, the American Heart Association says. If you're diabetic and smoke, you're three times more likely to die of heart disease or stroke than nonsmokers; you're more likely to cause nerve damage and develop kidney disease; and you're more likely to raise your blood sugar level.

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Maintain a Healthy Weight

Body fat analysis with electronic bioelectrical impedance scale at weight loss clinic.

Being overweight raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, plus heart disease and stroke. If you already have diabetes, carrying excess weight can make your blood sugar harder to control. "If you have diabetes, you may find your blood sugar levels are easier to manage and that you need less diabetes medicine after you lose weight," the CDC says. "Many people who lose weight notice that they have more energy and sleep better too." According to the Mayo Clinic, losing just 5% of your body weight can result in better control of blood sugar levels, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

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Keep Stress Manageable

Team competing in tug of war

Stress raises blood sugar—it activates our primitive instinct to have fuel ready to fight or flee. Chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors that can make diabetes worse, including overeating, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and not getting enough sleep. Experts advise that everyone, particularly people with diabetes, find healthy ways to deal with stress, such as exercise, doing favorite activities, and practicing relaxation exercises. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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