Managing Diabetes With Exercise: Benefits and Precautions

The three pillars of treating diabetes are medication, foods for diabetes, and physical exercise. Having an exercise plan for diabetes takes main stage because it makes your body more sensitive to insulin thereby helping in lowering blood glucose.

Exercise is an integral part of diabetes management.  An adult has to have some form of regular physical exercise of around 30 minutes daily. Bottom line: If you have diabetes, you must have an exercise plan – period.

Follow the exercise guidelines explained below and you will be okay.

Health benefits of exercises in diabetes

Exercise benefits on the health of the diabetic are as significant as sticking to the diabetes diet plan. Both these factors help in lowering the doses of your diabetes medicines. In fact, studies have shown these two factors can well reverse diabetes type 2 and  help you stop your diabetes medication.

Exercise is necessary for a diabetic because it controls the weight and lowers the blood sugar level by making the blood glucose sensitive to insulin. It gives a sense of well-being and makes one feel overall better.

When you exercise, the body utilizes the glucose in the blood and converts it into energy required for the physical activity. The fall in the blood glucose levels relaxes the beta cells in the pancreas and they stop producing insulin.  Please note that exercise does not cause the blood sugar to fall below normal levels in a healthy person.

As you go on exercising, the fat cells in the fat depots of the body are then used for energy. You thereby not only lower your blood glucose levels but also burn the fat, helping in weight loss.

Types of exercises for diabetes

There are various types of exercises, you can do if you have diabetes. However, aerobic exercises are recommended. Weight training exercises are also recommended if you are insulin resistant. They increase blood flow to the muscle tissues and increase your sensitivity to insulin. Choose the one that you enjoy the most or is convenient. Whatever you do, do it religiously.

The fundamental reason to exercise is to spend energy, which will come from burning up of the blood glucose. This will help to lower the raised blood glucose levels in the blood.

Consult your physician and take his nod about the type of exercise that is best suited for you.

I. Walking: Whenever possible, walk instead of driving

2. Swimming

3. Jogging

4. Dancing

5. Cycling

6. Lightweights

7. Tennis or badminton

8. Aerobics

9. Stretching exercises

10. Join the health club

Certain precautions are to be taken when you exercise

a) A 5 minute warming up is necessary before you start exercising. Start exercising at a gradual pace initially.

b) Similarly, a five-minute cooling down is necessary after you have finished.

c)  As exercise makes the blood sugar sensitive to insulin, there may be a sudden drop of blood glucose levels. The risk of hypoglycemia is there. Look for telltale signs, such as anxiety, shivering, palpitations, excessive sweating, dizziness and headache which may be indicative of hypoglycemia.

d)  A diabetic patient must keep either sugar packets or sugar pills or glucose biscuits or such sugar raising items on his possession to take, at times like these.

e) One must check the blood glucose levels before and after the exercise. A blood glucose level of 100 to 250 mg/dL means you are good to go. If the level isles than 100 mg/dl, have a light carbohydrate snack before you start your exercise.

f) Drink plenty of water before, during the exercise, and after, as there is risk of dehydration.

f)  Avoid consuming alcohol prior to or immediately after exercise.

g) Avoid strenuous physical activity. It can cause hypoglycemia.

h) Limit your exercise sessions to one or two per day.

i) If you exercise in the evening, allow a gap of at least two hours before you go to bed.

f) The diabetic must ensure that the footwear is comfortable and he must check for any foot injuries after the day’s work or a bout of exercise.

Having an exercise program and following it regularly is great and will go a long way in managing your diabetes. However, you have to exercise patience. It will be months before you start seeing results. Just do not give up midway. It has to be your lifelong habit.

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