The role of exercise in diabetes
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity as part of your treatment plan can help overall glucose control. Exercise helps:
- to utilize blood glucose for energy during and after exercise; therefore lowering blood glucose levels
- to make insulin more sensitive (therefore less is required)
- to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you have type 1 diabetes, exercise is key to reduce the risk of heart disease by improving overall fitness and enhancing the body's response to insulin. Careful attention still needs to be given to the balance of insulin, food and exercise. You will need to adjust your plan to account for exercise, making sure you eat enough extra food to match the calories exerted during your exercise or if your exercise is planned, you can decrease the amount of insulin that you take before your workout.
If you have type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to manage it. Along with proper diet and medication if needed. It will help you moderate glucose values. As you exercise, you expend energy. With this expenditure of energy, not only do you train your heart and lungs to become more efficient, you will also train your body to utilize insulin more effectively. When insulin is used efficiently, blood glucose values improve. Often medication and/or insulin dose can be decreased when exercise is part of your weekly routine.
Learn the rules about blood sugar level and exercise
Since exercise can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), learn to identify your specific needs of food intake and medication relative to your blood glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends general guidelines that are helpful in regulating the glycemic response to exercise. These are:
- Avoid exercise if fasting glucose levels are => 250 mg/dl and urine ketones are present
- Avoid exercise if glucose levels are => 300 mg/dl and urine ketones are present
- Ingest added carbohydrate if glucose levels are <= 100 mg/dl
Benefits of Exercise: Regular exercise is essential for good health.
Persons with diabetes experience the same general benefits from exercise as those without the disease plus a few extra. Because there is a much greater incidence of heart disease in someone with diabetes, exercise is an important component of the diabetes management plan.
- Improved blood sugar control
- Reduces excess insulin in the body
- Promote weight and body fat loss
- Maintain weight reduction
- Decreases the risk of developing cardiovascular (heart and lung) disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- Decreases total cholesterol and triglycerides
- Increases high density lipoproteins (HDL - the heart healthy cholesterol)
- Improves your circulation
- Decreases blood clotting (blood clots are the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes)
- Increases muscle tone and strength
- Increases energy
- Sleep better
- Improves mood and sense of well-being (more positive attitude)
- Reduces stress
- Delays the effects of aging
- Improves flexibility
- Denser bones to prevent osteoporosis
- Counteracts the effects of inactivity and improves function in everyday life
But wait! Exercise can be fun! When you take charge of your health by increasing your fitness, you improve your appearance and look and feel better. The ball is in your court, so to speak. Leave this computer and go do something fun and active!