Let’s face it, everyone benefits from some type of exercise but if you have diabetes, physical activity is a very important component in helping you manage the disease and stay healthy.
Exercise can help in lowering your blood sugar level, controlling your weight, raises your “good” cholesterol while lowering the “bad,” reduces your risk of heart disease and circulatory problems. It helps your body use insulin more efficiently, strengthens your heart and bones, increases blood flow, tones muscles, keeps joints flexible, and alleviates stress.
This doesn’t mean you have to take out a membership in the local gym or hire a personal trainer, but the more you move, the more benefits you will reap, and the better you will feel.
Before starting any exercise routine, consult with your doctor. There may be exercises you should not do, especially if you have other health concerns besides your diabetes. Your doctor can help you choose the right plan.
Most doctors will recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity for 5 days every week. The recommended activities will usually include some form of aerobic exercise to make you breathe deeper and make your heart work a little harder. Strength training exercises may also be recommended to help build muscle and increase your flexibility.
You’ll be surprised at some of the moderate-intensity options:
* Taking a walk. (Adding hand weights is a part of strength training!)
* Riding a bike.
* Planting and tending a garden.
* Washing your car.
* Cleaning your house.
* Mowing the lawn.
* Swimming, rowing, hiking.
* Playing tennis, basketball, skiing or skating.
After talking with your doctor and developing an exercise plan, make sure that you monitor your body’s reactions to the increased physical activity. If you have not been physically active in awhile, start slow and only increase your activities, or length of time exercising, as you become stronger.
Diabetics have some special concerns that need to be addressed when adopting any exercise regime. Below is a simple checklist to help you get the most out of your exercise plan.
Diabetic exercise checklist:
* Always check your blood sugar level before and after you exercise.
* Warm-up for 5-10 minutes before you exercise and cool down for 5-10 minutes after you are done.
* Make sure you wear the proper shoes and socks for the activity.
* Check your feet for any sores or blisters.
* Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercising.
* Pay attention to how you are feeling. If you notice a change in your heartbeat, feel shaky, start to sweat excessively or feel hungry, STOP. If your blood sugar level drops too low, you can experience hypoglycemia. Take a snack with you, just in case.
The most important factors to consider when embarking on an exercise plan include:
* Choosing the appropriate activity. (One deemed safe for you by your doctor.)
* Having the proper shoes, socks, etc. needed for the activity.
* Following warm-up and cool down recommendations.
* Starting out slowly.
* Checking your blood sugar level before and after exercising.
* Always having a water bottle and a snack with you.
* Choosing an activity that you enjoy.
Exercise can make you feel better physically and mentally and, improve your quality of life. Talk with your doctor and get moving!