|Why is Exercise very important for Diabetics?
People who suffer from either type of Diabetes, Type I or Type II (or non-insulin
dependent), can benefit from regular exercise. However, we will focus on Type II
Diabetes as it is the most common form, accounting for over 90% of all Diabetes cases.
This form of Diabetes usually develops later in life when cells of the body become insulin
resistant. As a result, it becomes harder for the body to regulate blood sugar levels. The
three most important tools used to control Diabetes are diet, exercise, and medication.
All these must be incorporated into the lifestyle of the diabetic. Healthy eating and /or
taking medication alone will not successfully control blood sugar levels. Regular exercise
is equally if not more important.
|How can exercise affect the blood-sugar level in the body?
During and for several hours after exercise, extra energy is expended by the body. As a
result, excess sugar is removed from the blood, and blood sugar levels are reduced. This
effect can last as long as 18 to 24 hours after an exercise session.
|What is the relationship between exercise, diabetes and being
Being overweight often results in the body's cells becoming resistant to insulin. Regular
exercise helps people reach and maintain a healthy body weight. If healthy habits
are not practiced, this resistance can lead to further weight gain. A dangerous cycle
quickly develops which, if not broken, often leads to Type II Diabetes as well as several
other health problems. Combining regular exercise with a healthy diet not only helps to
control Type II Diabetes, but can also help to prevent it from ever developing.
|How can exercise help the heart?
Exercise plays a role in delaying or preventing the onset of large blood vessel and
heart disease, the leading killer of people with Diabetes. Aerobic exercise helps to
strengthen the heart and burn fat. A build-up of fat around the heart and within major
arteries often results in large blood vessel and/or heart disease, both of which can lead
to a heart attack. By exercising regularly, 3-4 times a week, the development of these
diseases can be slowed or even prevented.
|What type of exercises can be recommended for the diabetic?
Any physical activity that raises the heart rate for twenty to thirty minutes and is
performed on a regular basis will bring about health benefits. However, walking seems to be the most convenient, safe and beneficial
exercise for the majority of people. Depending on a person's abilities, several other
activities will burn calories and bring about health benefits. These activities include:
gardening, swimming, stationary bicycle riding, and resistance training to strengthen
muscles. However, be sure to consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.
|As a diabetic, are there any special steps one should take before
beginning an exercise program?
Yes! Diabetics have special needs and concerns that should be
addressed before beginning any type of exercise program.
|Talk with a Doctor-
Be sure to describe in detail the type of activity you plan on doing including such
information as how long the activity will last and how often you will be doing it.
|Take care of your feet-
Talk with your physician about how to prevent and treat any sort of injury to your legs or
feet. As a diabetic, the circulation in your extremities, especially the legs, is reduced.
Therefore, a diabetic is more prone to infection and injury of the feet and legs. This
should not prevent you from beginning an exercise program, but it is an important fact to
always keep in mind.
|Always carry some identification-
In case of an emergency, be sure to always wear or carry something that identifies you as
a diabetic, especially when exercising.
|Carry a Carbohydrate-
While exercising, it is possible, even with non-diabetics, for blood sugar levels to drop
too low. That is why it is a good idea to carry some type of carbohydrate that can easily
be absorbed by the body. For eg. a cup of orange juice. If you feel your blood sugar has
become too low, stop exercising and eat a snack.
|Test your blood sugar level
You should get into the habit of testing your blood sugar level regularly.
|Do not exercise under stress-
Avoid exercising when your body is under stress, physical or mental, as blood glucose
levels can be irregular during these times
|Exercise with a friend
Exercising with a friend helps to motivate and protect you. Should an emergency situation
develop, it is a good idea to have a friend with you who understands your special needs as
a diabetic. If you don't have a friend to workout with, avoid exercising in isolated
areas. Try to limit your workout to places where people are around and able to help you in
case of an emergency (health clubs, parks, or your neighborhood).
|It is important for diabetics to keep their abilities as well as
limitations in mind when designing an exercise program. The
few special steps that diabetics must take before exercising should not outweigh the
crucial benefits they receive from exercise. By incorporating a healthy diet, proper
medication, and especially regular exercise into their lifestyle, diabetics can live each
day to the fullest.