If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and think all you have to do now is avoid sugar in your diet, you’re not quite right. While it definitely helps, there’s a lot more to diabetes management than just cutting sugar out of your diet.
Along with your medication and diet, another thing that plays a significant role in managing diabetes in exercise. Regular exercise has loads of benefits for people with diabetes and otherwise, too. The first step to diabetes management is always awareness.
So, if you’re already here trying to learn more about exercise and Type 2 diabetes, you’re headed in the right direction. Keep reading to find out how exercise helps in diabetes management, the precautions you must take, and much more.
Why Exercise is Important for Diabetes Management
To understand why exercise is important for diabetes management, you need to first understand what diabetes does.
Without getting too technical, normally, our body produces a hormone called insulin. This hormone allows the sugar in your blood, from the food you’ve eaten, to be used by your body to produce energy. When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, this means his body is not producing enough insulin, or the body can’t use that insulin.
Consequently, the body cannot use sugar from the blood, which leads to high blood sugar or high glucose levels. If you’re not sure what that’s like, click here to read about some warning signs of high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can cause damage to various vital organs and tissues.
Now, this is where exercise comes in. Regular physical activity can help lower blood sugar levels.
According to a study by the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), maintaining low levels of blood sugar leads to a delay in many diseases such as nephropathy, retinopathy, and nerve disorders for individuals who have Type 1 diabetes.
Similarly, exercising also allows your body to use its insulin more efficiently and increase insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing insulin resistance.
Your diabetes is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely flip your life upside down because of it. Take your medicines, have a healthy diet, and do regular exercise to continue living your best life.
How Exercise Helps in Diabetes Management
As mentioned earlier, a chronic disease like diabetes doesn’t merely affect your diet. Negligence in diabetes can have serious adverse effects on your life. We don’t mean to scare you, but not exercising can put you at risk for fatal injuries such as a heart attack or stroke.
The good news is that if you adopt a healthy lifestyle and bring small changes, such as regular exercise, diabetes doesn’t have to affect or define your life. You can do almost everything that a person who doesn’t have diabetes can do.
Therefore, here’s how exercise helps in diabetes management and allows you to live a normal, healthy life.
Helps Lose Weight
Regular exercise helps you burn calories and get rid of body fat. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential not just for everyone but more so for people with diabetics. It allows the body to deal with insulin resistance more effectively and thus control the glucose level.
When you exercise, it activates certain enzymes in your body that move LDL, the bad cholesterol in your blood, to your liver, which then helps in expelling it. High levels of cholesterol, combined with diabetes, can significantly increase the risk of heart diseases and strokes.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Cardio workouts and resistance training on a regular basis can strengthen your heart muscles over time. As your heart gets stronger, it has to work less to pump blood, and so, it lowers your blood pressure. Similar to cholesterol, high blood pressure, along with diabetes, increases the risk for other heart diseases.
Other than that feeling of accomplishment after finishing a particularly hard workout, regular exercising releases various hormones in the brain that are associated with feelings of happiness, confidence, and other positive emotions.
Moreover, exercising can also relieve stress, anxiety, and sometimes even combat depression. Stress and glucose levels have a strong link, where increased stress can prevent your body from effectively using the sugar from your blood.
Strength exercises particularly force your muscles to work harder, thereby improving their strength, power, and endurance. The intense training forces your muscle to use the sugar from your blood, lowering blood sugar levels, and countering insulin resistance.
Increases Energy Levels
Regular exercising forces your heart rate to go faster, more blood to flow, and the release of various hormones. Over time, all of this can increase your energy levels. Since fatigue is a classic symptom of diabetes, increasing energy levels through exercising is an important aspect of diabetes management.
How Often Should You Exercise?
The best part about performing exercises for diabetes is that it doesn’t demand long hours or very intense workouts. Simply engaging in any physical activity for thirty minutes every day for five days a week is more than enough.
If it seems too much, you can start with ten or fifteen minutes a day, and go from there. Over time, you’ll be able to reach thirty, sixty, even ninety minutes. Try not to go more than two days without any exercise.
Moreover, by exercise, we don’t strictly mean lifting weights or doing pushups. You can do anything that involves physical activity. This could include walking, swimming, dancing, yoga, and much more.
Precautions for Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes
We’re sure you’re totally pumped up to start exercising right away. However, before you get to that, you need to keep some crucial things in mind.
Sometimes, exercising can cause blood sugar levels to drop very low suddenly, which is quite dangerous as it can lead you to lose consciousness or even seizures. Therefore, if you start noticing any symptoms such as lightheadedness, a high heart rate, pain in your chest, weakness, etc., stop and seek medical attention immediately.
Regardless of the disease you have, exercise is a must for everyone. Furthermore, for people who have diabetes, especially, exercise is as vital as their daily medicines and proper diet. Remember to follow a good, consistent routine to live your best life!