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How Often Should Diabetics Exercise

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Top 8 Exercises For Diabetics

Diabetes and Exercise

Exercise is one of the best natural treatments for diabetes, as it can help control your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, starting an exercise program today can improve your symptoms and quality of life.

Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of exercise for diabetes and about the top 8 exercises for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

What Should Diabetics Consider Before Working Out

Before working out, Dr. Riddell says that its important for diabetics to understand how different forms of exercise affect their body. Additionally, they should learn to properly manage blood glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association echoes this. It encourages diabetics to check blood sugars before, during, and after a workout.

When it comes to nutrition, Dr. Riddell says that its good to let insulin work its way out of the bloodstream before starting a workout. A lot of people dont realize when they take insulin that it has a lasting effect of up to five hours, he says. People take their needle with lunch. Then an hour later, if theyre going for a walk, they dont realize that the insulin is in action. This is why its best to have a meal well in advance. Get the food and insulin in the body, and then have it disappear so you have less variables for exercise.

Prevention And Treatment Of Type 2 Diabetes With Lifestyle Intervention

Structured lifestyle intervention trials that include physical activity at least 150175 min/week and dietary energy restriction targeting weight loss of 5%7% have demonstrated reductions of 40%70% in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in people with impaired glucose tolerance . A recent systematic review of 53 studies that evaluated 66 lifestyle intervention programs reported that, compared with usual care, diet and physical activity promotion programs reduced type 2 diabetes incidence, body weight, and fasting blood glucose while improving other cardiometabolic risk factors . Trials evaluating less resource-intensive lifestyle interventions have also shown effectiveness , and adherence to guidelines is associated with a greater weight loss .

Read Also: What To Do If You Take Too Much Insulin

Exercises For People With Diabetes

Try to make a habit of doing the following exercises on a regular basis, Cotey says. Theyll give you the maximum benefits to help you manage your diabetes, and are relatively easy to fit in each day.

  • Walking Because anyone can do it almost anywhere, walking is the most popular exercise and highly recommended for people with diabetes. Spending 30 minutes of brisk walking, five times each week is a great way to increase your physical activity. You can even break this 30 minutes down into 10-minute sessions three times a day.
  • Tai Chi This Chinese form of exercise uses slow, smooth body movements to relax the mind and body. Studies have shown those who complete tai chi sessions show significant improvement in blood sugar control. They also report increased vitality, energy and mental health.
  • Yoga A traditional form of exercise, yoga incorporates fluid movements that build flexibility, strength and balance. Its helpful for people with a variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes. It lowers stress and improves nerve function, which leads to an increased state of mental health and wellness. According to the ADA, yoga may improve blood glucose levels due to improved muscle mass.
  • Guidelines For Starting Or Continuing Exercise Based On Glucose Levels

    Healthy things: Type 2 Diabetes and Exercise

    Figures , and contain guidelines using a traffic light approach to assist exercise specialists with clinical decision-making regarding people with diabetes starting or continuing exercise based on glucose levels and other factors. These Action Plans will be individually guided by the exercise specialist, in consultation with the individual. Figures and contain simplified flow charts summarizing the guidelines. These resources refer to a Diabetes Healthcare Professional who is a clinician with appropriate qualifications to understand the interactions between medications, glucose levels, carbohydrate intake and co-morbidities. For example, in Australia, this includes doctors, nurse practitioners, credentialed diabetes educators, accredited exercise physiologists, physiotherapists and accredited practicing dietitians.

    Fig. 1

    Type 1 Diabetes Exercise Action Plan. A distinct PDF of this figure can be viewed in Additional file

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    The Importance Of Exercise When You Have Diabetes

    For people who have diabetesor almost any other disease, for that matterthe benefits of exercise can’t be overstated. Exercise helps control weight, lower blood pressure, lower harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raise healthy HDL cholesterol, strengthen muscles and bones, reduce anxiety, and improve your general well-being. There are added benefits for people with diabetes: exercise lowers blood glucose levels and boosts your body’s sensitivity to insulin, countering insulin resistance.

    Many studies underscore these and other benefits from exercise. Following are some highlights of those results:

    In general, the best time to exercise is one to three hours after eating, when your blood sugar level is likely to be higher. If you use insulin, it’s important to test your blood sugar before exercising. If the level before exercise is below 100 mg/dL, eating a piece of fruit or having a small snack will boost it and help you avoid hypoglycemia. Testing again 30 minutes later will show whether your blood sugar level is stable. It’s also a good idea to check your blood sugar after any particularly grueling workout or activity. If you’re taking insulin, your risk of developing hypoglycemia may be highest six to 12 hours after exercising. Experts also caution against exercising if your blood sugar is too high , because exercise can sometimes raise blood sugar even higher.

    Image: ratmaner/Getty Images

    Move More Facebook Live With Our Experts

    Watch our Senior Physical Activity Advisor, Neil Gibson, and Senior Clinical Advisor, Emma Elvin, talk about moving more when you have diabetes. As well as answering questions from viewers, they cover topics ranging from checking your blood sugar levels when exercising, to what you should eat and how we can support you to get active.

    The thought of being more active might be overwhelming, but once you start people have told me how great it makes them feel. You wont just see the benefits now. Its about building a healthier future too – we know being active helps protect your body against diabetes complications and can help you lead a happier and healthier life.” Emma Elvin, our Senior Clinical Advisor

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    Physical Activity And Pregnancy With Diabetes

    Recommendations

    • Women with preexisting diabetes of any type should be advised to engage in regular physical activity prior to and during pregnancy. C

    • Pregnant women with or at risk for gestational diabetes mellitus should be advised to engage in 2030 min of moderate-intensity exercise on most or all days of the week. B

    Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy have been shown to benefit most women by improving cardiovascular health and general fitness while reducing the risk of complications like preeclampsia and cesarean delivery . Regular physical activity during pregnancy also lowers the risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus . Exercise programs including at least 2030 min of moderate-intensity exercise on most or all days of the week are recommended . Once gestational diabetes mellitus is diagnosed, either aerobic or resistance training can improve insulin action and glycemic control . In women with gestational diabetes mellitus, particularly those who are overweight and obese, vigorous-intensity exercise during pregnancy may reduce the odds of excess gestational weight gain . Ideally, the best time to start physical activity is prior to pregnancy to reduce gestational diabetes mellitus risk , but it is safe to initiate during pregnancy with very few contraindications . Any pregnant women using insulin should be aware of the insulin-sensitizing effects of exercise and increased risk of hypoglycemia, particularly during the first trimester .

    How Exercise Helps Prevent Complications Of Type 2 Diabetes

    Diabetes and Exercise – Decide to Move

    Apart from managing blood sugar and insulin levels, exercise functions to slow, stop, and in some cases, even reverse the long-term effects that occur due to the progression of type 2 diabetes. Here are some of the main ways that physical activity combats insulin resistance-related complications:

    Improving Vascular Health When you exercise, your muscles release a host of compounds that benefit vascular and circulatory health, Occhipinti says. That means more oxygen and nutrients can get where they need to go, reducing the risk of diabetes-related neuropathy, vision loss, and heart issues. Improved blood flow may also aid in joint health, he explains.

    RELATED: 7 Tips to Help You Stick With Exercise When Managing Diabetes

    Lowering Inflammation Inflammation throughout the body is believed to be a primary cause of the progression of type 2 diabetes and its related conditions such as arthrosclerosis , cognitive decline, and joint deterioration, according to an article published in April 2019 in the European Cardiology Review. Yet routine exercise can help lower chronically high inflammation levels to mitigate its detrimental effects, Occhipinti explains.

    Improving Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Apart from strengthening heart health through improvements in blood flow and reductions in inflammation, exercise also targets blood pressure and cholesterol levels, Occhipinti says. Both are leading contributors to progressive heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.

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    Use Tools To Set Exercise Goals And Plan Ahead

    Setting goals can help you break down what you need to do and how to do it. These can be short, medium or long-term goals, and they can give you the chance to think ahead about any barriers you might come across. Examples could include:

    • completing a weekly exercise video online
    • going on a daily walk
    • stretching for 10 minutes after you wake up.

    We’ve also created a guide to moving more to help you start this journey. There’s space for you to plan your activity and track your progress, as well as lots of information to support you along the way.

    If one of your aims is to lose weight, weve made a weight loss planner for you to download. You can stick it to your fridge to help you keep track each day.

    You might also want to try our Learning Zone to learn more about how effective a little bit of physical activity can be for your diabetes. Youll also be able to hear from other people with diabetes about what they do to get active and how it helps.

    If youre short on time and prefer to plan while youre on the go, try apps like the Couch to 5K and Active 10. Apps can be really motivating and give your planning some structure.

    A Few Notes Before You Begin Exercising

    If you don’t currently exercise , talk to your doctor before starting. Especially if you’re an adult with type 1 diabetes, you should have a full physical to make sure you’re ready to be more active.

    Your doctor will be able to check your heart health, which is particularly important if you already have blocked arteries or high blood pressure. You also need to take into consideration any other diabetes-related complicationsretinopathy or neuropathy, for example. As you begin an exercise program, your doctor can help you figure out the best exercise program that allows you to get in shape but doesn’t push your body too far.

    Before you begin exercising, you need to set realistic goals. If you haven’t exercised much recently, you aren’t going to jump into running a marathon. In fact, you aren’t even going to jump into running a 5k.

    Allow yourself some time to build up to a steady, challenging exercise routine. It is okay to slowly increase your physical activityit’s better for your body in the long run.

    Finally, talk to your doctor and/or Certified Diabetes Educator about adjusting your insulin around exercise. You don’t want to become hypoglycemic during a work-out, so you’ll need to do some planning.

    Also Check: Normal Blood Sugar Levels For Gestational Diabetes

    Diabetes Exercise And Foot Care

    People who have had diabetes for a long time or those who have consistently high BGLs are at higher risk of developing foot problems. If you have nerve damage to your feet this makes you more prone to injury and to problems such as foot ulcers.

    The health of your feet should be checked regularly by a podiatrist to make sure you are safe to do the exercise you are planning.

    You can prevent foot injuries and infections by:

    • wearing well-fitting socks and shoes check that shoes are long enough, wide enough and deep enough
    • wearing the right shoe for the activity you are doing
    • inspecting your feet daily
    • having annual foot checks by a podiatrist
    • reporting to your doctor any changes to your feet, such as redness, swelling or cuts or wounds, as soon as you detect them.

    How To Benefit From Physical Activity

    Exercise in individuals with diabetic neuropathy

    The goal is to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. One way to do this is to try to fit in at least 20 to 25 minutes of activity every day. Also, on 2 or more days a week, include activities that work all major muscle groups .

    Examples of moderate-intensity physical activities include:

    • Walking briskly

    These activities work your large muscles, increase your heart rate, and make you breathe harder, which are important goals for fitness. Stretching helps to make you flexible and prevent soreness after being physically active. Find out more by reading tips for being active with diabetes pdf icon.

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    Tips To Get Started With Exercise

    1. Get the go-ahead from your healthcare team. Talk to your primary care physician or endocrinologist before beginning a workout program, recommends Colin Laughlin, CSCS, founder of QualityLife Fitness virtual workout center. This will help you ensure that youre choosing a form of exercise that is best suited for any coexisting health conditions that you may have, such as heart disease or diabetic neuropathy.

    2. Make a plan to ensure your blood sugar stays in a healthy range. Exercise must be carefully planned with intake of food and insulin to prevent hyper- or hypoglycemia, explains Kristen Gasnick, a board-certified doctor of physical therapy based in Livingston, New Jersey. Again, talking to your medical team can be important, as is testing your blood sugar before and after exercise. When first getting started with exercise, you may also need to test during your workout, she says. Continuous glucose monitors can be helpful for exercisers.

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    3. If youre new to exercise, take baby steps. If 150 minutes per week seems like a lot, start with a goal of 45 minutes of exercise for the week, then 60, then 75, and continue until you hit and maintain the goal of 150 minutes, Occhipinti says. In addition to being one of the best ways to stay motivated to exercise when you have diabetes, this gradual approach to exercise will reduce the risk of exercise aches, pains, and injury.

    How Exercise Helps People With Diabetes

    Exercise offers many benefits. It:

    • strengthens bones and muscles
    • reduces your risk of heart disease and some types of cancer
    • improves coordination, balance, strength, and endurance
    • can increase your energy level
    • helps insulin work better in the body, which helps blood sugar levels stay in a healthy range
    • burns calories, which helps you reach and stay at a healthy weight
    • teaches you about teamwork, competition, and courage
    • helps boost self-esteem and confidence
    • relieves tension and stress, relaxes you, and boosts your mood, too
    • can even help you clear your mind and focus your attention better

    All exercise is great whether it’s walking the dog or playing team sports. Just be sure to do it every day. Changing exercise habits can be hard for everyone at first. But most people say that once they start feeling the benefits, they’re hooked. After that, it’s a lot easier to keep going. But there are some facts you need to know about exercise and diabetes.

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    Watch Your Blood Sugar

    Exercise can affect your levels right away and over a longer time.

    If you take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar levels, test yours 30 minutes before you work out and then every 30 minutes as you exercise to make sure your numbers stay stable.

    On the days you plan to exercise, skip insulin shots in your arms and legs — use another injection spot. And avoid working out when the insulin is in its peak action time. Talk to your doctor about your peak time, because it varies.

    For most people, a blood sugar level between 100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL is an OK pre-workout range. Use this guide to help you respond to other results.

    If your blood sugar is:

    • Lower than 100 mg/dL: Have a snack with carbs, like fruit or crackers.
    • 250 mg/dL or higher: Test for ketones, the compounds your body makes when it doesn’t have enough insulin. Being active when ketones are high can make you ill.
    • 300 mg/dL: Wait to exercise until your blood sugar drops.

    Stop exercising if:

    • You feel shaky, anxious, weak, or confused.
    • You sweat more than usual.
    • Your heart is racing.
    • You have a headache.

    These could be signs that your sugar is dropping or low, and they can happen during exercise or several hours after.

    Great Exercises For People With Diabetes

    How Does Exercise Affect Type 1 Diabetes?

    iStock.com Raymond Forbes/Stocksy iStock.com Making Exercise a Routine Do you get enough exercise? If you’re like many Americans, the answer is no and that’s especially true for those of us with diabetes. Studies show as few as 39 percent of people with type 2 diabetes participate in regular physical activity, compared with 58 percent of other Americans. And that’s a shame, because working out can help increase insulin action and keep blood sugars in check, says Sheri Colberg-Ochs, PhD, founder of the Diabetes Motion Academy in Santa Barbara, Califorinia, and professor emerita of exercise science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Exercise also helps you lose weight and improve balance, which is important because many people with type 2 diabetes are at risk for obesity and for falls. I fully recommend that anyone over 40 with diabetes include balance training as part of their weekly routine, at least two to three days per week, says Dr. Colberg-Ochs. It can be as simple as practicing balancing on one leg at a time, or more complex like tai chi exercises. Lower body and core resistance exercises also double as balance training. Here are six great workouts you can easily work into your daily routine. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen, and go slowly at first. Over time, you can increase the length and intensity of your routine.Continue reading > >

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