Manage Diabetes & Exercise For Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes and exercise conform to a healthy program that also includes a diabetic diet and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels to prevent serious diabetes complications.

The numerous benefits to someone interested in learning how to manage diabetes with exercise, or at least some sort of moderate physical activity, include:

  • Losing weight if they are overweight
  • Stimulating metabolism, which increases use of insulin
  • Reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Reducing risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Lowering risk of experiencing renal failure or heart and liver disease
  • Helping to control stress levels and promoting mental well-being

According to the article “The Clinical Exercise Physiologists Expanding Role for Those with Type 2 Diabetes,” published in the 2011 edition of American College of Sports Medicine, “the relationship between being overweight and the risk of [type 2 diabetes mellitus] is solid”, including strong recommendation for regular supervised exercise training.

In addition, this reduction in blood glucose is due to less hepatic (liver) glucose production, because muscles are utilizing excess glucose already in the blood for energy purposes. The authors of this article further state that this “mild-to-moderate intensity exercise also lowers blood glucose, and this effect is even sustained into the post-exercise period.”

Exercise and Diabetes Benefits Emotional Health

Because managing diabetes involves an ongoing and often emotionally stressful program of adhering to a strict diet plan, glycemic control and medication, exercise and diabetes play a vital role in stress and depression reduction and enhancing the quality of life for those with diabetes. Exercise combined with the proper diet are excellent ways to lower blood sugar levels.

In the article “Association of Depression with Medical Illness: Does Cortisol Play a Role?” first published in the January 1, 2004 edition of Biological Psychiatry, the authors state that “elevated levels of cortisol found in depressed patients represent an enduring and well-replicated finding.” Sustained release of cortisol in individuals experiencing chronic stress or depression may also influence the development of diabetes, especially Type 2.

Types of Exercise

While diabetes and exercise definitely need to be included in a diabetic’s overall health program, individuals who are not used to exercising should begin slowly by incorporating more physical activity into daily activities. Some easy ways to do this include:

  • Whenever possible, walking or riding a bicycle instead of driving
  • Using stairways instead of elevators, especially when you are going up only two or three flights
  • Participating in moderate housecleaning every day, as well as yard and garden work
  • Parking farther away from stores to add more steps to your daily walking
  • Performing stretching exercises while watching television
  • If you work at a desk, getting up and walking around every hour for five minutes

In addition to adding extra physical activity to your daily routine, you should begin walking for ten minutes a day and gradually increase walking time five minutes each day. Walking is one of the best exercises for diabetics, a form of aerobic exercise that increases rates of blood flow and heart contraction, enhances muscle strength and benefits lung capacity.

Other examples of aerobic exercise beneficial to controlling diabetes include:

  • Dancing
  • Swimming and water exercises
  • Tennis
  • Riding a stationary bicycle
  • Roller skating

Aerobics exercise is the one that can lower your risk of diabetes and control your blood sugar level.

Yoga for Diabetes

Learning yoga poses is an excellent way to integrate exercise and diabetes into a comprehensive health program for lifetime control of diabetes. Many people find yoga more relaxing than exercise due to its emphasis on meditation and mindfulness. Yoga is also one of the best exercises for diabetics and a good practice for diabetics who have experienced retinopathy and cannot engage in physical activity that is jarring, such as some aerobic activities.

Before and After ExercisingDiabetes and Exercise

Diabetics need to be careful when exercising due to fluctuations in glucose levels. Precautions to take before and after exercising include:

  • Checking sugar levels before and after an exercise session
  • Making sure your feet do not have blisters or other open wounds
  • Drinking plenty of water during exercise
  • Performing warm-up exercises before aerobics
  • Keeping appropriate snacks available to correct possible hypoglycemia

Good snacks to have handy for times when blood sugar levels drop too low are fruit juices, hard candy, honey or glucose tablets.

Diabetes and exercise can prevent serious complications by maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, contributing to weight loss and reducing the risk of other disorders exacerbated by diabetes.


More About Diabetes and Exercise:

  • Exercise for Diabetes
  • How does Exercise help Diabetes?
  • Diabetes and Physical Activity
  • Controlling Diabetes with Diet and Exercise
  • Yoga for Diabetes
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