Exercise can help control your weight, lower your blood sugar, and lower your risk of heart disease. Since heart disease is a common condition found with diabetes, and controlling your weight as well as your blood sugar is helped by exercise, it’s a win-win situation to stick with a regular exercise program.
Exercise helps you feel better physically and mentally. Your brain releases chemicals that boost your mood when you workout. Your overall physical health will improve by gaining better balance and muscle tone. Staying with your exercise program, which doesn’t have to be too intense or high-impact, gives you all these benefits, while helping to keep your diabetes controlled.
Types of Recommended Exercise
Talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen. That’s good advice for everyone, so be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner. Your doctor can help you decide what types of exercise will suit you, depending on your physical condition when you begin your program.
Aerobic exercise is recommended in many cases. Its benefits include deep breathing and elevated heart rate, which improves your respiratory and cardiovascular health. Some examples of aerobic activity include:
If you have any conditions that prevent you from doing aerobic exercise, you can do the following:
- chair exercises
- slow-paced walking
- light yoga
- avoid weight-bearing exercise
- avoid running
Benefits of Physical Activity in Controlling Diabetes
When you exercise regularly, there are many benefits to staying with your program, such as:
- lowers both your blood pressure and cholesterol
- lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
- burns calories to help control your weight
- increases your energy for daily activities
- helps improve your sleep
- alleviates stress
- strengthens your heart
- improves your blood circulation
- increases your muscle and bone strength
- increases and maintains your joint flexibility
- builds up your balance
- reduces depressive symptoms
- improves your quality of life
The more areas of your physical and mental health you can improve naturally through regular physical activity, the less need you’ll have for medication. The less medication you take, the less potential there is for side effects and drug interactions.
When you exercise regularly, your cells become more sensitive to insulin. Now, your cells can work more efficiently by removing glucose from the blood due to increased physical activity. Exercising consistently can lower blood glucose and improve your A1C, so now there’s potential for needing less medication.
Safety Tips for Exercising
Here are some simple tips for exercising safely and controlling your blood sugar:
- Start slowly and increase your physical activity gradually.
- Warm up for 5 minutes before starting to exercise and cool down for 5 minutes after.
- Avoid activity in extreme weather, exercise indoors instead.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity to stay hydrated.
- Always carry a carbohydrate with you, so you’ll be ready to treat low blood glucose.
- Carry a cell phone in case you need to call for assistance.
- Activities should be energizing, but not overly difficult.
- If you become short of breath and you can’t talk, slow down.
- Take care of your feet by wearing shoes and clean socks that fit well.
- Carefully inspect your feet before and after activity for blisters, redness, or other irritations.
- Stop exercising if it’s painful, causes serious shortness of breath, or you feel light-headed.
The Benefits of Exercise and Your Blood Sugar
When you exercise, your blood sugar lowers for the next 24 to 48 hours. This is because exercising your muscles makes them more sensitive to insulin, and they absorb more glucose from the blood. In some cases, exercise can increase blood sugar, so test your blood sugar before, after, and occasionally during exercise, to see how your body reacts. Exercise also helps lower blood pressure. High blood pressure can contribute to heart problems, strokes, eye issues, kidney disease, and other diabetes complications.
After talking to your doctor, get out there and be active. Your body will be glad you did.