People with diabetes are encouraged to exercise regularly for better blood sugar control and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The reason for this is that muscles which are working use more glucose than those that are resting.

Muscle movement leads to greater sugar uptake by muscle cells and lower blood sugar levels. There are some exercise precautions which people with diabetes must take, however, when done safely, exercise is a valuable aid to optimal health. Research has shown that physical activity can:

* lower your blood glucose and your blood pressure

* lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol

* improve your body’s ability to use insulin

* lower your risk for heart disease and stroke

* keep your heart and bones strong

* keep your joints flexible

* lower your risk of falling

* help you lose weight

* reduce your body fat

* give you more energy

* reduce your stress

There are 3 areas of safety to consider with exercise. Exercise precautions are designed to help people with diabetes avoid problems which can result from unwise exercise choices. Hypoglycaemia can occur if a person who is taking blood sugar lowering medication has:

  • Eaten too little carbohydrate (fruit, milk, starch) relative to the exercise.
  • Taken too much medication relative to the exercise
  • Combined effect of food + medication imbalances relative to the exercise

Are there any types of physical activity a diabetic shouldn’t do?

If you have diabetes complications, some exercises can make your problems worse. For example, activities that increase the pressure in the blood vessels of your eyes, such as lifting heavy weights, can make diabetic eye problems worse. If nerve damage from diabetes has made your feet numb, your doctor may suggest that you try swimming instead of walking for aerobic exercise.

Numbness means that you may not feel any pain from sores or blisters on your feet and so may not notice them. Then they can get worse and lead to more serious problems. Make sure you exercise in cotton socks and comfortable, well-fitting shoes that are designed for the activity you are doing. After you exercise, check your feet for cuts, sores, bumps, or redness. Call your doctor if any foot problems develop.

Check with your doctor: Always talk with your doctor before you start a new physical activity programme. Ask about your medications – prescription and over the counter – and whether you should change the amount you take before you exercise. If you have heart disease, kidney disease, eye problems, or foot problems, ask which types of physical activity are safe for you.

Find an exercise buddy: Many people find that they are more likely to do something active if a friend joins them. If you and a friend plan to walk together, for example, you may be more likely to do it.

Keep track of your physical activity: Write down when you exercise and for how long in your blood glucose record book. You’ll be able to track your progress and to see how physical activity affects your blood glucose.

Decide how you’ll reward yourself: Do something nice for yourself when you reach your activity goals. For example, treat yourself to a movie or buy a new plant for the garden.

What can I do to make sure I stay active?

One of the keys to staying on track is finding some activities you like to do. If you keep finding excuses not to exercise, think about why. Are your goals realistic? Do you need a change in activity? Would another time be more convenient? Keep trying until you find a routine that works for you. Once you make physical activity a habit, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

admin on June 19th 2010 in General