Exercise and Diabetes: Effective Workout Strategies for Improving Glycemic Control

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, as well as the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness. Diabetes has no cure, but with lifestyle changes and medication, you can manage its symptoms and live a normal life. Diabetes management relies heavily on exercise and lifestyle changes. So, how does exercise aid in blood sugar management?

Well, when we exercise, our insulin sensitivity increases, so muscle cells can use insulin to regulate glucose during and after physical activity for energy. Not only blood sugar levels but blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels are improved by exercise. That’s why it is beneficial to exercise for diabetes management to improve your overall health.

Learn exercise tips and safety measures you should keep in mind during your workout.

Benefits of exercise for diabetes

Exercise is very crucial for everybody who is not physically active enough throughout the day. But if you have diabetes, working out every day will make your body more sensitive to insulin which manages your blood sugar levels. When your muscles contract during activity, your cells can take up glucose and use it for energy.

It also lowers the risk of heart disease and nerve damage.

Other than that, you can get these benefits as well, including:

  • Helps you to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Make you feel happier.
  • Improve your sleep quality.
  • Improve your memory and concentration.
  • It helps to manage your blood pressure.
  • Lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol.


Exercise safety

Before starting any exercise program make sure you talk with your doctor about the exercises which are safe to perform with diabetes. Keep in mind, start slowly, especially in the beginning if you’ve not been physically active for a while. Other safety tips include:

  • Before going to the gym or starting exercising make sure you check your blood sugar levels until you are aware of how your body responds to exercise. Blood sugar levels should be less than 250 mg/dL before exercising. If your blood sugar levels are high, then it might lead to ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition created by a lack of insulin in the body. So do a five-minute warm-up before and after exercising when you cool down.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
  • During workouts, it is common to experience episodes of low blood sugar levels. So, take something which can increase your sugar levels such as hard candy, glucose tablets, or 4 to 5 ounces (about 147.87 ml) of juice.
  • Wear a medical alert ID band, which is used to send signals and make EMTs know how to treat you accordingly.
  • Always carry your phone.
  • Avoid working out in extremely cold or hot temperatures.
  • Wear proper sports shoes and socks to protect your feet.

While working out make sure you don’t over-exhaust your body (you might feel out of breath, dizzy, or lightheaded). If you experience any usual problems tell your doctor about it.

Whether you suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes, exercising is one of the essential parts of treatment. Because exercise gives you many health benefits such as improving your mood, blood pressure, and sleep quality, it makes insulin sensitive to cells, which helps manage your blood sugar levels. So, it is important to do appropriate exercise which is suitable for your body and condition. Make sure you follow all the exercise safety tips for diabetes that are mentioned above to prevent any serious injury and get the best results from exercise.

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