Exercising regularly is recommended as a glycemic control strategy for people living with diabetes. In addition to lowering blood sugar directly through the energy demand from physical exertion, exercise also increases insulin sensitivity, reduces the dependence on medications and insulin for glucose control, improves cardiovascular health, and contributes to healthy body weight. Therefore, people with diabetes should strive for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise a week, and include at least two sessions of resistance exercise.
However, if you rely on insulin and medications for managing diabetes, or if you have a special medical condition, talk to your doctor about how to incorporate exercise in your routine. Here are some considerations:
Monitor your blood glucose before and after an exercise. If the blood glucose level is too low before an exercise, you may need to consume some food and raise blood glucose to prevent hypoglycemia. Consider carrying some fast-acting glucose tablets in the event of having low blood sugar.
Exercise at the same times of the day and observe how an exercise affects your blood glucose. If you are dependent on insulin for managing blood glucose, you may need to adjust the amounts and intervals of insulin injections.
Be mindful of your body’s reactions. Diabetes is associated with damage to the blood vessels and other cardiovascular conditions. Discomfort in your chest area, nausea, and shortness of breath during an exercise may indicate a problem. Consult with your doctor first about exercising if you are at an elevated risk for a coronary event.
For people with diabetes, the body is less efficient at dissipating heat. Drinking adequate amounts of water and exercising in a cool, ventilated environment can prevent heat stress.
Check your feet for cuts and bruises from exercising. Nerve damage from diabetes can make it difficult to detect injuries to the extremities. Use proper footwear to reduce the chance of an injury.
The health risks from long-periods of sitting down and other sedentary behaviours are often far greater than those from exercising. For more tips on maintaining an active lifestyle and the different types of exercise, see the guidelines below:
DISCLAIMER: THE CONTENT IN THIS POST SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS PROFESSIONAL ADVICE OR REPLACE THE ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH.