Exercise for the Diabetic

Janelle Baldwin

We all know everyone needs to exercise in this sedentary/fast food American lifestyle.  This article will highlight reasons diabetics/pre-diabetic persons need to incorporate exercise into their lives to control the progression of their disease and help control blood sugar.  Awareness of all the great physiological components of exercise can help the “non-exerciser” see it as a needed part of their treatment program.

Exercise in general helps control physiological aspects in your body by:

  • Improving your body’s use of insulin
  • Burning excess body fat – decrease and control weight – (decreased body fat results in improved insulin sensitivity in the body – good thing!)
  • Improving muscle strength, bone density & bone strength
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Increasing “HDL” good cholesterol and decreases “LDL” bad cholesterol – protects against heart and blood vessel disease
  • Improving circulation and reduces risk of heart disease
  • Increasing energy level – releases good chemicals into body as opposed to stress chemicals released – therefore reduces stress and elevates mood!!
Tips to remember with exercise (and being diabetic)
  1. DO NOT use diabetes as an excuse not to exercise! Reason to exercise!!
  2. Wear great shoes – supportive arch, does not rub on toe, check socks. Check your feet after exercise for blisters, rub marks.
  3. DO NOT exercise if blood sugars are over 240 or less than 100, or when medicines are reaching peak effect.  If you use insulin, exercise after eating, not before.
  4. Follow a regular routine (same time of day) for exercise to avoid hypoglycemia and control blood sugar, eat and take meds same time, Dr. may need to adjust meds with heavier exercise.  (exercise causes the muscles to take up blood glucose almost 20 times the normal rate, thus it lowers blood glucose levels)
  5. Wear an ID tag or let people know that you are diabetic in case of emergency – tell them what to do, DO NOT assume people know what to do if you do not inform them
  6. Exercise is a lifetime commitment and lifestyle change – ideally type 2 diabetics should exercise EVERY DAY to help manage the disease.
Lastly, the four components of exercise needed for a complete program are: strengthening, stretching or flexibility, balance and cardiovascular conditioning.

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