In my previous article I discussed how important diet can be when controlling your diabetes. However, exercise can also be a very important factor when treating diabetes. In this article I will discuss how exercise can help control your diabetes, the precautions you should take when exercising and finally which exercises are the most effective at fighting diabetes.
So how does exercise help control your diabetes? Well it actually helps in multiple ways. I have outlined three of the most important below:
1) BETTER BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL:- When you exercise you need more energy. Your muscles burn glucose to get this energy and as a result your blood sugar levels are reduced. Therefore, exercise can act as an effective substitute for insulin. In fact in certain cases involving type 2 diabetics, exercise has removed the need for insulin injections and medication completely.
2) IMPROVED INSULIN SENSITIVITY:- According to this article, exercise can improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics. Since one of the primary problems amongst diabetics is the body not getting enough insulin, this is another fantastic way in which exercise can help control your diabetes.
3) IMPROVED WEIGHT CONTROL:- Exercise helps you to lose weight in two ways. Firstly, cardiovascular exercise burns extra calories both during and after your workout. According to this article you can burn up to 15% more calories in the 48 hours following a cardiovascular workout. That means by doing a cardiovascular training session every other day you can be constantly burning up to 15% more calories, plus you will burn even more calories when you are actually doing the exercise.
Secondly, resistance training can help you lose weight because muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat. By increasing your muscle mass through resistance training you can increase the total amount of calories your body burns each day. The actual amount of calories muscle burns has been heavily exaggerated in the past but according to this article a pound of muscle can burn around 6 calories per day compared with a pound of fat which burns 2 calories per day.
Combining cardiovascular training with resistance training can therefore be a very effective way to burn excess calories and control your body weight. But why is this important for your diabetes? Well according to this article from Dlife excess body fat makes your body more resistant to insulin so keeping your body fat levels under control is essential if you want to stay on top of your diabetes.
As you can see exercise can be a really effective form of diabetes treatment. Not only does it help lower your blood sugar levels but it also improves your body’s resistance to insulin and helps keep your body weight under control. However, there are a number of precautions that you need to take before starting your exercise program:
1) MONITOR YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS:- As I have already stated, exercise can help reduce your blood sugar levels which is generally a good thing for diabetics. However, this is not always the case. If you have not eaten enough or you have taken insulin or medication prior to exercising, your blood sugar levels may be low already. In this instance, exercise could lower your blood sugar to hypoglycaemic levels. Furthermore, intense exercise can actually have the opposite effect by causing your body to release stress hormones which increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is highly important that you monitor your blood sugar levels before, during and after exercise.
2) CARRY GLUCOSE AND INSULIN:- You should carry glucose and insulin at all times when exercising because (as outlined above) your blood sugar levels can fluctuate massively. Intense exercise can cause your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly meaning you may require insulin or medication. Contrastingly, prolonged exercise can cause your blood sugar levels to fall meaning that you may need a quick fix of glucose during or after exercise.
3) STAY HYDRATED:- Dehydration can cause your blood sugar levels to rise and affect your performance whilst exercising. Therefore, it is highly important that you drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated throughout your workout.
4) CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR:- It is recommended that you talk to your doctor before embarking on any exercise program BUT it is even more important when you are suffering from diabetes because the consequences of not exercising properly can be much more severe. Make sure that you inform your doctor of the type of exercise program you wish to participate in and ask them if there are any additional precautions that you should take. They will then be able to tell you if you need to combine any foods and/or medication with your exercise plan and provide further recommendations to allow you to exercise safely.
So now that you know the benefits of exercise and the precautions to take you should be ready to get started. But how much exercise should you be doing and what types of exercise are best? Ideally you should try and do at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. If this is not possible try and make sure you are doing at least 30 minutes of exercise every other day. The actual exercise (as I have mentioned above) should be a combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training:
1) CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE:- This type of exercise focuses on improving your aerobic fitness which increases the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles and allows them to work for longer. Cardiovascular exercise is also a great way to stimulate the burning of glucose (which lowers your blood sugar levels) and control your weight (which makes your body more receptive to insulin). When it comes to cardiovascular exercise you have many choices including; jogging, walking, swimming, cycling and team sports.
2) RESISTANCE TRAINING:- This type of exercise focuses on strengthening the muscles, either through bodyweight training or through the use of weights (in the form of free weights or machine weights). Apart from increasing your muscle mass and helping you control body fat levels, resistance training has also been linked with the treatment of diabetes. According to the study in this article 16 weeks of resistance training produced improvements in glucose control amongst Hispanic men and women, that were so significant they could be compared with taking diabetes medication.
Along with diet, regular exercise is a great way to treat diabetes naturally. By doing a combination of cardiovascular training and resistance training you can really keep your condition under control and maybe even remove the need for insulin injections or medication completely. As long as you stick to your program, exercise regularly, stay sensible and take the necessary precautions, exercise can be a great weapon in your fight against diabetes.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Diabetes is a medical condition and this article is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner. Before making any lifestyle changes you should always seek your doctors advice. If you have any concerns regarding any form of diabetes then you should speak to your doctor right away.
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