Those living with diabetes regularly hear that exercise is an important part of good diabetes management. We know that exercise can help lower blood sugar levels, but are rarely given specific guidelines for how and when to exercise that have specific results tied to our actions.

How and why does it lower blood sugar?

There are so many ways to exercise and that word means something different to each person. Some may feel that walking to the mailbox at the end of the driveway each day is considered sufficient exercise, while others are not satisfied until they complete a marathon.

Finally there is a little clarification on this issue thanks to results from a recent study conducted by Monique Francois, MPhEd, of the University of Otago in New Zealand along with a team of exercise science and medicine researchers. Their study investigated how bursts of exercise affect blood sugar control compared to a longer, moderate- intensity exercise routine. Their results revealed that short bursts of exercise before a meal are more effective in lowering blood sugar than regular prolonged workouts.

"In those with insulin resistance, both the timing and intensity of exercise are important and can be used to control blood glucose. Moderate-low intensity exercise may not be a big enough stimulus to improve blood glucose control, especially if the rest of the day is spent sedentary," said Francois. For more specifics about this study it can be found online.

There is a lot of grey area when it comes to how and why diabetes affects the body, and with many areas of diabetes we are told to do something knowing that it is always a slight gamble as to whether our bodies will actually react the way we want it to with a recommended treatment. It is refreshing to hear about direct results to an action that we as individuals have complete control over.

This study gives those that question the role of exercise in their treatment plan a reason to get out there and exercise. It not only gives a reason, but specific guidelines on what is proven to work the best in order to get the best blood sugar results.

As I mentioned before, everyone has different needs and physical abilities. Not everyone can just jump up and run around the block before each meal. But for those that are physically able, this study shows that it may be worth it to adjust your exercise regimen to include these short bursts of exercise in order to improve blood sugar control.

To learn more about diabetes and exercise:

9 Exercise Myths We Need to Forget
Walking vs. Running: Which Is Really Best?
3 Equipment-Free Exercises to Combat Diabetes