Exercise is helpful for any individual, but it is especially helpful for those with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). Many diabetics have wondered about the correlation between exercise and diabetes management and if it would be beneficial to them. The answer is yes; exercise and diabetes management go hand in hand and can be extremely advantageous to those with diabetes. Not only does exercise regulate blood sugar, weight loss and high blood pressure, but it also lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. Exercise can be light, mild or vigorous, depending on the tenacity of the individual. However, some kind of exercise is a must, or serious complications could arise.
Benefits to Exercise
Although it may seem easier to simply pop a pill or even take a shot instead of putting on your walking shoes, exercise coupled with a healthy diet has proven to be one of the best things you can do for diabetes management. When you exercise, your muscles use sugar (glucose) for energy, which stabilizes your normal blood sugar levels. Regular physical activity also improves your body’s response to insulin, which increases the use of glucose for energy and the body’s overall efficiency. These factors work together to lower your blood sugar level. The more strenuous your workout, the longer the effect lasts. But even light activities — such as housework, gardening or being on your feet for extended periods — can lower your blood sugar level. Exercise can also improve diabetes by:
- Improving circulation
- Burning calories
- Reducing high blood pressure
- Reduces risk for hypertension
- Reduces cholesterol
Now is your time to start; but how?
- Get your doctor’s approval to exercise. – This is especially important if you’ve been inactive and plan to start exercising regularly or if you were just diagnosed with diabetes.
- Adjust your diabetes treatment plan as needed. – If you take insulin, you may need to adjust your insulin dose before exercising or wait a few hours to exercise after injecting insulin. Or your doctor may suggest other changes to your diabetes treatment plan.
- Exercise good judgment. – Check your blood sugar level before, during and after exercise, especially if you take insulin or medications that can cause low blood sugar. Drink plenty of fluids while you work out. Stop exercising if you experience any warning signs, such as severe shortness of breath, dizziness or chest pain. If your feet become blistered or cut, cease any workout plans until they heal or you could risk furthering the damage.
Although exercise can be invaluable to your health, it’s important to remember that there is a limit beyond which exercising should not be stressed. If you don’t listen to your body, you could risk damaging it further rather than helping it heal. Another thing to keep in mind is that exercise must be done on a regular basis. If there are gaps in between, then the benefits will not be as substantial.