Exercise has many benefits, including lowering your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease in which your body either doesn't manufacture enough insulin or the insulin doesn't allow glucose to enter your body's cells. Since glucose is your cells' main source of energy, when your cells don't receive glucose they can't function properly.

1. Exercise Helps You Lose Weight Being overweight is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Losing even 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help reduce this risk. A study conducted by the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study Group concluded that subjects at high risk of developing diabetes who were part of an intervention in which they lost weight, ate more fiber, reduced fat intake and increased physical activity reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

2. Exercise Plus Good Nutrition Helps Decrease Body Fat Lowering your body fat helps normalize how glucose is converted into energy.

3. Exercise Helps Your Body Use Insulin Better Exercise makes muscles more sensitive to circulating insulin. The insulin helps the cells take in the blood sugar that they use for fuel. Research indicates that even short-term aerobic exercise improves the sensitivity of muscles to insulin.

4. Exercise Strengthens Your Immune System It keeps your heart strong, helps you sleep better, decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins, which are natural chemicals in your body that lift your mood.

5. Aerobic Exercise Improves Blood Cholesterol Levels and Lowers Blood Pressure Both benefits occur even without weight loss.

6. Exercise Improves Blood Circulation Better blood circulation reduces the risk of foot problems and nerve damage.

7. Use Caution When Starting an Exercise Program Do not start any exercise program without first consulting your physician. Exercise that's too intense can increase your blood glucose.

For more information visit the American Diabetes Association web site.