Exercise does more than help you lose weight. It helps with weight management, helps you naturally cleanse your body, helps with bone/muscle density, but did you know that it also helps manage or even prevent type 2 diabetes?
Many people exercise with one goal in mind: weight loss. But what they fail to remember is that exercise provides many other valuable benefits. One of the greatest rewards of physical activity is a lowered risk for type 2 diabetes. Already diagnosed with diabetes? Exercise is one of the best ways to lower high blood sugar, reduce your dependence on drugs and prevent complications.
Diabetics should no longer view exercise as optional, but as a high priority form of treatment. Remember to always check with your doctor before adding exercises to your routine. Keep reading to learn the ways exercise is beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes and how to add exercise to your life.
Lowered Blood Sugar
The hallmark trait of diabetes is having too much glucose in the blood. Known as high blood sugar, this problem arises if the body isn’t producing enough insulin to process the glucose or if the body is insulin resistant and isn’t using the hormone properly. In either case, exercise is one of the best ways to lower the amount of extra glucose in the blood.
As you exercise, your muscles absorb glucose from the blood for energy with or without the help of insulin, thus lowering your blood sugar levels. Exercise also improves the way your body responds to insulin so your cells are able to process glucose more effectively.
Following exercise, your blood sugar levels may remain lowered for up to one or two days. Exercise on a regular basis and you can lower your A1C test results, which measures your average blood sugar over the course of two to three months. This test is an indicator of how well you’re managing your diabetes.
Protection from Complications
Diabetics have an increased risk for a number of health complications. Heart problems, heart attack, and stroke are some of the most concerning. Fortunately, exercise is well known for its heart health benefits. Lowering blood pressure, keeping the arteries clear of plaque, reducing high cholesterol, and strengthening the heart muscle are a few of the ways exercise is good for your heart and fend off complications of diabetes.
Exercise has a different affect on each person. During the first few workout sessions, it’s important for people with diabetes to check their blood sugar levels before, during and after exercise to monitor its effect. Sometimes exercise can make blood glucose levels increase.
Prevent extreme highs or lows by keeping an eye on your numbers. If your readings come back below 100 mg/dL, stop exercising, eat 15 to 20 grams of carbs, and after 15 minutes recheck your numbers. Repeat these steps until your blood sugar is above 100 mg/dL before resuming your workout. Low blood sugar levels are more likely with exercise if you take insulin, skip meals, engage in strenuous activity or exercise for a long period of time.
Best Types of Exercise
Want to prevent or better manage diabetes? Make it your goal to get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. If you’re new to exercise, you may need to work your way up to this much activity. Start out slowly and gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
Plan to include three types of exercise in your weekly routine — cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises. Find a few types of workouts you enjoy and rotate between them. Work with your personal trainer to develop an exercise program that meets your fitness level and takes your health concerns into consideration.
Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.