Exercise and Diabetes

by Dave Tomar on August 26, 2013

Exercise and Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition but it doesn’t have to be a debilitating one. With proper management of your diabetes, you can enjoy a long, healthy and active life. Much of this management comes from the lifestyle decisions that you make on a daily basis. Decisions such as what you eat, how you manage your medication and how often you visit your physician will all have a bearing on your condition. Another critical decision involves the dilemma between engaging in regular exercise and sitting on the couch, eating potato chips. Of course, staying in shape and remaining active are always important, but when it comes to managing your diabetes, it is absolutely critical.

The Benefits of Exercise  

Reduce Blood Glucose: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) identifies diabetes as a condition where a dangerously high level of blood glucose or blood sugar threatens the body’s equilibrium. Therefore, one of the most important factors in reducing the health risks associated with diabetes—which include heart and renal disease—is finding ways to keep blood sugar levels in check. According to WebMD, regular exercise helps the body to consume glucose at 20 times the rate of a body at rest. This reduces those dangerous levels of blood sugar. In other words, exercise should be considered a major part of your treatment plan.

Maintain a Healthy Weight: Chronic obesity is often a root cause of diabetes. Therefore, many individuals facing diabetes must also contend with this condition. Obesity substantially raises the health risks that are already associated with diabetes. This is why exercise is such an important part of the strategy for treating both. When is comes to fighting and winning the battle of the bulge, there is no substitute for regular physical activity, particularly if paired with a nutritious diet. WebMD also points out that reducing excess fat actually improves the body’s ability to use insulin. This means that you’ll feel more energetic and you’ll get more out of your treatment strategy.

Reduce Risk Factors: Other risk factors associated with diabetes include high blood pressure, high ‘bad’ (or LDL) cholesterol, circulatory difficulties and an elevated risk of heart disease or stroke. A committed exercise routine has been shown to reduce one’s risk in all of these categories. This means that with regular exercise, you have a chance to limit the negative health consequences related to your condition.  

Exercise Tips for Diabetics  

Consult a Physician: Before you jump into a routine, you may want to visit your physician. Consider a health checkup and a consultation, especially if you are developing a fitness routine for the first time (or for the first time in a while). This will give you a chance to discuss some of your limitations, to find a balance between exertion and safety, and to gain some professional advice on the exercise strategy that might be best for you.

Check Your Levels: In most cases, your workout routine will not be substantially different from that of anybody else your age. However, you know that part of managing your diabetes is regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels. This is doubly true when you are exercising. The Mayo Clinic says you should always check your blood sugar levels before, during and after your routine. This reduces the risk of an unexpected dizzy spell or fainting incident during your workout and also helps you to understand how your blood sugar levels respond to different fitness activities.

Don’t Overdo It: Moderation is the key to gaining the full benefits of your routine without endangering your health. The Mayo Clinic recommends roughly 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. If your fitness routine is too strenuous, you not only raise the risk of injury or coronary incident, but you can also counteract the treatment benefits of exercise. According to WebMD, overly intense exercise can prompt the body to up its glucose production, elevating the very blood sugar levels that you’ve worked so hard to reduce. You aren’t training for an Olympic decathlon. You just need to find something fun that gets you up and moving. Find a happy medium.

Find Something You Enjoy!: We can’t stress this enough. The best way to get yourself into a steady fitness routine is to find something that you truly love. There are few things more destructive to a good exercise regimen than dreading your workout. If you enjoy the outdoors, try riding a bicycle, gardening in your yard or finding an enjoyable walking route. If you like competitive sports, look for a friend to partner up with. If you aren’t sure what you enjoy, try taking an instructional class that interests you. Whatever it is, make sure your workout is something that you can look forward to.