Exercise can help you not only lose weight, but it is also essential for managing diabetes . Physical activity can increase circulation, decrease stress, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It is highly recommended to exercise regularly, about thirty minutes per day, for general good health.

For people with diabetes, exercise can have even more benefits. It can help keep blood glucose levels in range and can go a long way toward preventing complications associated with diabetes.

Exercise and type 1 diabetes

When it comes to type 1 diabetes, exercise is all about balance. People diagnosed with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin in response to eating.

They must receive insulin in some form (either through an injection or a pump) every day in order to live. Blood glucose levels depend on the carbohydrates consumed, the administration of insulin and the level of activity.

Exercise can lower blood glucose levels during and after it is over. This can lead to hypoglycemia. People with type 1 diabetes should check their blood glucose before, during and after exercise, and also have some carbohydrate snacks in case their blood sugar drops.

By carefully monitoring blood glucose, a person with type 1 diabetes can learn what their individual response to exercise is and how many carbohydrates to take and how much insulin to use.

A good guide in this case would be to consume 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates every 30 to 60 minutes during exercise or if glucose levels are 100 mg / dl or less. Avoid exercise if your fasting glucose levels are above 250 mg / dl, especially if ketosis is present. Ketosis alters the acidity of the blood and can damage the kidneys and liver.

Exercise and type 2 diabetes

People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes generally have something called “insulin resistance.” This means that their bodies still produce insulin, but it is no longer as effective at lowering blood glucose because cells have become resistant to it.

Sometimes the insulin receptors are not as sensitive, and other times the pancreas just doesn’t make as much insulin as it used to. This insulin resistance is generally associated with an increase in fat and a decrease in muscle mass.

Muscle cells use insulin much more efficiently than fat cells, so building more muscle and reducing fat helps the body use the insulin that is produced, which lowers overall blood glucose levels. Exercise can help the body use insulin more efficiently while building muscle and reducing fat.

In the case of pre-diabetes

Overweight and sedentary people are at risk of developing prediabetes, which can be a precursor to type 2. Prediabetes is diagnosed when fasting plasma glucose (FPG) is greater than 100 mg / dl but less than 126 mg / dl, or greater than 140 mg / dl but less than 200 mg / dl during an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

The risk of type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even prevented if lifestyle changes include weight loss and increased physical activity. And fundamentally when the diet begins to be taken care of even if you do not have diabetes, this includes a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fiber. 

How to start

Try to get 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. There are many different types of exercise. Try some of these or incorporate your own:

  • Walk, bike, jog, or dance.
  • Home exercise videos.
  • Yoga, tai chi or Pilates classes.
  • Team sports like volleyball, martial arts, basketball, racquetball.
  • Walk at a brisk pace.
  • Cycling.
  • Elliptical
  • Swimming.
  • Skating.
  • Trekking.
  • Yoga and even meditation accompanied by movements.

Before starting an exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor.

Sometimes there can be the possibility of underlying complications with diabetes and should be considered before starting your exercise program. Especially if the correct use of insulin is not monitored, which can bring physical complications. 

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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