Exercise with diabetes, despite its minor risks, is essential for the diabetic’s health. While it is true that diabetics who exercise may face diabetes complications, the benefits of exercise far outweigh any risks. Nonetheless, it is essential that you be aware of potential hazards.
Exercise Benefit: Increasing Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin, which regulates the level of blood glucose in our bodies by stimulating the liver, is released from the pancreas after meals and during physical activity. Diabetes is caused by excess blood sugar resulting from abnormally low levels of insulin in the body. Physical exercise has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity for up to sixteen hours after the physical activity ends. Type 2 diabetics especially can benefit from increased insulin sensitivity, as their bodies are likely insulin resistant due to a high level of fat in cells.
Other Benefits of Exercise with Diabetes
Besides increasing insulin sensitivity, exercise with diabetes can lead to an increase in muscle strength and weight loss, which will help you better manage your diabetes symptoms, and may eliminate or decrease your need for medications. It will make you feel better by increasing your energy level, reducing stress, improving blood circulation, and lowering your blood pressure.
Risks of Diabetic Exercise
Although exercise with diabetes should not by no means be avoided altogether, it’s important for you to understand the diabetes complications that may arise during exercise. This way you can exercise at times that are most beneficial to your body. Risks include:
- Increase in blood sugar – The liver releases excess blood sugar during simple aerobic exercise to give you the energy you need to perform the physical task; however, people with diabetes already have excess blood sugar in their bloodstreams.
- Decrease in blood sugar – Hypoglycemia (stark decrease in blood sugar) may also occur in diabetics as a result of exercise. You may suddenly feel a change in heartbeat or become hungry. You may also begin to sweat more excessively and feel anxious and shaky.
Managing Diabetic Exercise Risks
Follow these tips to help decrease your risk of diabetes complications during aerobic exercise:
- Monitor your blood glucose levels – Test your blood glucose before, during, and after your physical activity. If your blood sugar is too high or too low, do not begin exercise or stop exercise immediately until your blood glucose levels normalize.
- Treat hypoglycemia- When you feel the symptoms of low blood sugar, stop exercising immediately, and treat hypoglycemia as you have been advised to by your doctor. This usually involves ingesting a supplement, such as fruit juice or a candy bar, that will help raise your blood glucose levels quickly.
- Pace yourself – Alternate your aerobics exercise with weight lifting, which is not as strenuous for your condition, and which can tone your muscles and improve your overall health. Stretch before and after exercising and tackle aerobics exercise at a slow, steady pace, steadily increasing the pace after weeks of physical activity.
Exercise can improve your health dramatically, but you must tread carefully as a diabetic. The best exercise with diabetes regimen can be determined after consultation with your doctor.