7 Ways Exercise Can Help Manage Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the body cannot produce or effectively use insulin, a hormone that helps transport glucose into cells. Diabetes can wreak havoc on numerous body systems if left unchecked, including the cardiovascular, neurological, and renal systems. Fortunately, exercise is a powerful tool in managing diabetes. Let’s explore the top 7 ways that exercise can help.
1. Improving insulin sensitivity
Regular exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity in muscles, making the body more efficient at using insulin and reducing blood sugar levels. A review of studies published in the journal Diabetes Care found that aerobic exercise was particularly effective at improving insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes.
Examples of exercise activities that can help improve insulin sensitivity include brisk walking, cycling, or weightlifting. The American Diabetes Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week, spread at least over three days per week, with no more than two consecutive days without exercise to see benefits.
2. Lowering blood sugar levels
In addition to improving insulin sensitivity, exercise can also help lower blood sugar levels. When you exercise, your muscles use glucose as fuel, causing your blood sugar levels to drop.
It’s essential to test blood sugar levels before and after exercise to determine the appropriate dosage of insulin or medication. For instance, if your blood sugar level is too high before exercise, it may be necessary to wait to begin exercising or adjust your insulin dosage.
Examples of exercise activities that can help lower blood sugar levels include low to high-intensity exercise such as walking, cycling, or swimming.
3. Boosting energy
Exercise can help increase energy levels, reduce fatigue, and improve overall quality of life, all of which can be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology found that a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises helped reduce fatigue in people with type 2 diabetes.
Examples of exercise activities that can help boost energy levels include yoga, Pilates, or swimming, among others.
4. Improving heart health
Aside from lowering blood sugar levels, exercise is also beneficial for overall heart health. Research has shown that exercise can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is a leading cause of death among people with diabetes.
Examples of exercise activities that are particularly beneficial for heart health include running, hiking, or rowing.
5. Reducing the risk of complications
Exercise can help reduce the risk of complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes, such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and eye problems. Strength training can also help increase bone density, reducing the risk of fracture in some people with diabetes, which is common in the elderly population with diabetes.
Examples of exercise activities that can help reduce the risk of these complications include strength training, balance exercises, or low-impact aerobics.
6. Overcoming barriers to exercise
Various barriers can prevent people with diabetes from exercising, such as fear of hypoglycemia, lack of motivation, or physical limitations. However, it is possible to overcome these barriers with practical tips to help make exercise a habit.
A few strategies include monitoring blood sugar levels, finding an exercise buddy, modifying exercise, or working with a personal trainer.
7. Making exercise a habit
Finally, it’s essential to make exercise a long-term habit. Setting realistic goals, tracking progress, and finding enjoyable activities can help you stay motivated and committed to your exercise routine.
Examples of how exercise can fit into a daily routine include taking a walk after dinner, doing yoga stretches in the morning, or cycling to work. Find what works best for your schedule and interests.
Exercise is a powerful tool in managing diabetes. It can help improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, boost energy levels, improve heart health, reduce the risk of complications, overcome barriers to exercise, and make exercise habits. Talk to your healthcare provider to start or modify an exercise routine that works best for your individual needs, and watch as exercise helps you manage your diabetes for a healthier and happier life.