While diabetes is often linked to inactivity, a diabetes diagnosis can motivate you to exercise more. Exercise helps you naturally reduce your blood sugar levels and promotes better blood flow. And, of course, it helps you control your weight.
It’s no surprise then that exercise is beneficial for people who suffer from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. While all forms of exercise have been shown to lower A1C values, not all types of exercises are equally accessible to people suffering from diabetes.
That’s why we’re here to help you discover the best diabetes exercises for all ages, as well as a few important things you should pay attention to.
Best Types of Exercises for Diabetes
Mild aerobic exercise is often the best exercise to start with, especially if you have not followed a regular training routine prior to your diagnosis. While your ultimate goal should be to exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, it’s best to start in 5-10-minute increments.
Here are some ways to get started:
- Take brisk walks or jog lightly
Depending on your location, you may choose to walk or jog in a park, on a treadmill, or around the neighborhood. One thing to remember is that moving in nature can improve your mood.
- Take an aerobics class or dancing lessons
These strengthen your heart and lungs, helping not only to better control diabetes, but promoting overall health.
- Ride a bicycle or swim
If diabetes has affected your feet, you may want to avoid putting too much strain on them. Light to moderate cycling and swimming enable you to exercise despite suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
Risks of Exercising with Diabetes
It’s important to remember that diabetes does affect exercising. If you suffer from type 1 diabetes, you should monitor your glucose levels as exercise may lead to low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which can be dangerous.
When you exercise, you use blood sugar as energy. Exercise then may cause your blood glucose to drop below healthy levels. However, this is more likely to happen if you exercise for too long or too intensely. Having glucose tablets or a sports drink like Gatorade readily available can help you replenish the glucose burned.
It’s especially important to avoid strenuous exercise if diabetes has affected your eyes or if you have high blood pressure. Another consideration is the outside temperature. While exercising outdoors is healthy, temperature fluctuations may affect blood sugar levels.
Also, diabetes and the medication you take for it may influence both your capacity for effort and the type of exercise you can perform. If your diabetes medication interferes with your exercising routine, you may want to talk about it with your doctor and see whether there are any alternative treatments.
Exercising for Diabetics – Final Considerations
You may want to test your blood sugar level before exercising. If the level is low, eat something that will increase it. This can help you compensate for the blood sugar you will burn as energy while exercising.
In the end, exercising for diabetes is something you may want to try. The benefits outweigh the risks and, as long as you avoid strenuous exercise and monitor your blood sugar levels before and after training, you should not experience any unpleasant side effects.