How exercise helps control diabetes

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Diabetes is a common health condition where the body either can’t produce enough insulin or can’t use insulin effectively, leading to high levels of glucose, or sugar, in the blood.

Over time, high blood sugar can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, and vision loss.

Thankfully, research shows that regular exercise can be incredibly effective in managing diabetes and improving overall health.

Why Exercise Matters for Diabetes

Exercise is a powerful tool for diabetes management because it affects how insulin is processed in the body and lowers blood glucose levels. When you exercise, your muscles use glucose for energy, which helps to lower the levels in your blood.

Additionally, regular physical activity improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which means it can use this hormone more effectively to control blood glucose levels.

The Benefits of Exercise

Lowers Blood Sugar Levels: Physical activity helps muscle cells absorb sugar from the blood, which can reduce blood glucose levels during and after exercise.

Regular exercise can lead to long-term improvements in blood glucose control, as reflected in lower HbA1c levels, which is a measure of average blood glucose over the past two to three months.

Increases Insulin Sensitivity: Exercise increases the sensitivity of the cells to insulin, meaning less insulin is needed to help glucose enter cells. This effect can last for hours or even days after exercising, making it easier to manage blood sugar levels more consistently.

Helps Control Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for managing diabetes, and exercise is an effective way to achieve this.

By burning calories and building muscle, exercise helps control weight and reduces the risk of developing complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease.

Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Exercise strengthens the heart and improves blood circulation, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Improves Mental Health: Living with diabetes can be stressful and can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, enhance mood, and improve overall mental health.

Types of Exercise Recommended

For people with diabetes, a combination of aerobic and resistance training is recommended:

Aerobic Exercise: Activities like walking, cycling, jogging, and swimming increase cardiovascular fitness and help reduce blood glucose levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week.

Resistance Training: This includes activities like weightlifting or using resistance bands, which help build muscle mass. Muscle is more effective than fat at using up glucose, which helps lower blood sugar levels. It is recommended to engage in resistance training at least two times per week.

Starting an Exercise Routine

Before starting any new exercise program, it’s important for people with diabetes to consult with their healthcare provider.

This is especially important for those who have complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease or neuropathy (nerve damage), as certain activities may need to be adjusted to suit their medical condition.

Staying Safe While Exercising

To ensure safety while exercising with diabetes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Monitor blood glucose levels before and after exercise to understand how your body responds to different activities.
  • Stay hydrated and carry a source of fast-acting glucose, such as glucose tablets, in case of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
  • Wear appropriate footwear and check your feet daily for blisters or sores to avoid infections.

Exercise is a cornerstone of diabetes management. Not only does it help control blood sugar, weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease, but it also contributes to better overall well-being.

Starting slowly and consistently building up an exercise routine can lead to significant health improvements for people living with diabetes.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that MIND diet may reduce risk of vision loss disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with diabetic neuropathic pain.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies that Vitamin E could help reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance in diabetes, and results showing eating eggs in a healthy diet may reduce risks of diabetes, high blood pressure.

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