Exercise plays a vital role in controlling diabetes because it improves the body’s response to insulin, aids in weight loss, and enhances cardiovascular fitness says Doug Holt, CSCS, owner of Conditioning Specialists in Santa Barbara, California. A recent Canadian study found that a combination of aerobic and weight training performed just three times a week for six months improved blood glucose control in adults with type 2 diabetes. Holt recommends following these rules.

Pump iron. Strength training builds muscle tissue, which increases your body’s natural ability to utilize insulin to bring sugar into muscles. Plus, it elevates your metabolic rate. “When most people want weight loss they think cardio, but weight training is one of the best ways to shed body fat,” Holt says. Try grabbing the dumbbells 2 to 3 times per week.

Two for one. Holt likes circuit training, which combines strength and cardiovascular training in one fast-paced workout, for its ability to burn a bunch of calories and cut down on gym time. Consult your gym or a personal trainer for a routine suited to your goals.

Be consistent. Do something active for 1 hour every day. “Even walking can improve insulin sensitivity,” says Holt. And it doesn’t even need to be a continuous hour. “Fifteen minutes here, 15 minutes there—it all adds up.”