Engaging in regular physical activity is good for just about anyone. So is engaging in regular exercise, but exercise and physical activity are not exactly the same thing. Before beginning a program of physical activity that is more vigorous than brisk walking, make an appointment with your diabetes care provider to talk about your plans and any precautions you should take with regard to choice and intensity of activity.
The 1996 report of the Surgeon General, entitled Physical Activity and Health, offers the following definitions for the various forms of physical activity and exercise:
• Physical activity is defined as bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that requires energy expenditure in excess of resting energy expenditure. Brisk walking is the most popular form of physical activity.
• Exercise is a subset of physical activity. It is planned, structured, and repetitive bodily movement performed to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness (such as strength, stamina, flexibility, or ratio of fat to muscle).
• Aerobic exercise consists of rhythmic, repeated, and continuous movements of the same large muscle groups for at least 10 minutes at a time. It includes activities such as walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming, and water aerobics. Many sports, such as soccer, can include aerobic exercise, as well.
• Resistance exercise training consists of activities that use muscular strength to move a weight or work against a resistive load. Examples include weight lifting, exercises using weight machines, exercises using body weight such as pushups, and exercises using large latex bands or rubber tubing.