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Diabetes and Exercises

Diabetes and Exercises

More Necessary than You Think

Exercising and physical activity are highly recommended to all people diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Regular exercising helps keep better control over blood glucose levels. If you are encouraged to start doing exercises regularly, it is not a doctor’s whim. The more your muscles move, the more glucose is transported to the cells, which normalized the blood glucose levels. What is more, exercises have an incredibly positive effect on the cardiovascular system, which is usually weaker in diabetic patients in comparison with healthy people. Next, regular and intensive training helps keep your weight normal or lose excess kilos, which help fight insulin resistance. After all, sport is a great way to fight stress, which is also one of the things that you need to avoid if you have diabetes. Whatever viewpoint on diabetes management you have, exercise is an integral part of the process.

How Should I Exercise

A specific type of exercises is chosen by your doctor depending on the peculiarities of your state of health. As a rule, doctors recommend doing aerobic exercises that make you breathe deeper and your heart work harder. This type of exercises helps to lose weight and strengthen the cardiovascular system. Aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, bicycling, dancing, etc. If you have problems with legs or feet, the doctor will chose such exercises that will give you the same effect while not overloading your legs, for example, chair exercises, bicycling, swimming, or rowing.

When you start your exercise program, do not try to do as much as possible at the very beginning. Both the intensity and length of the workout should be increased gradually; otherwise, excessively strong or long training may do harm instead of helping you. What is more, the workout itself should be conducted at different paces. It should necessarily be started with a warm-up. This may be a 10-minute walk followed by a 5-10 minute stretching. The same should be done at the end of the workout in order to cool down properly.

Precautions to Take

Though exercises are generally extremely beneficial for people with diabetes, there is a whole list of precautions that you should be aware of and always follow. Remember that exercising too much may lead to hypoglycaemia. Always follow your exercise plan and do not try to exceed yourself. What is more, drink much water before, during, and after the workout.

General Precautions Against Hypoglycaemia

  • Do not reduce your intake of carbohydrates before the workout
  • Do not take large doses of medication before the workout
  • Avoid both eating too little carbohydrates and taking too much medication before the workout

Following these simple rules will help you avoid the risk of severe hypoglycaemia. Do not forget that exercises themselves lower your blood sugar levels.

General Precautions Against Hyperglycaemia

  • Don’t exercise when you have flu, infection, or any other illness that influences your blood glucose levels
  • If your blood glucose level is between 240 mg/dL (13 mmol/L) and 300 mg/dL (17 mmol/L), do exercises of light and moderate intensity. Avoid long-lasting and highly intensive workouts.
  • Don’t exercise if your blood glucose level is above 240 mg/dL (13 mmol/L) and the result of urine test for ketonuria is positive.

Precautions for Diabetic Patients Taking Insulin or Oral Medication

  • Take a carbohydrate-rich snack before exercising if your blood glucose level is lower than 100 mg/dL (5.5 mmol/L)
  • If the blood glucose level is lower than 100 mg/dL (5.5 mmol/L) and the workout is light, you don’t have to take a snack before the workout. Still, you should have a source of carbohydrates at hand during and after training. Take a snack if the blood glucose level after exercising is lower than 70 mg/dL (4 mmol/L)
  • If the workout is intense or long, take additional snacks each 30-60 minutes of training.
  • If you experience the symptoms of hypoglycaemia, follow the guidelines on Carbohydrate Treatment and contact your doctor as soon as possible. You may be recommended to adjust your current treatment to the exercise plan, e.g. to take less medicine or insulin on the days when you exercise.
  • Don’t forget about a source of carbohydrates that you should always have at hand for the cases when your blood glucose levels become too low.
  • When exercising, especially alone, do not neglect wearing a form of ID that tells that you have diabetes. In case something happens, people will be able to help you much quicker if they know you’re diabetic.

Precautions for Diabetic Patients with Heart Problems

If you have any heart problem, you should discuss the exercise plan with your doctor in detail. According to general recommendations and precautions from the British Heart Foundation, people with diabetes should avoid strenuous and long-lasting workouts that can lead to pains inn chest.

Precautions for Feet in Diabetic Patients

As you know, feet get more vulnerable when you have diabetes. When exercising, you should pay even more attention to the health of your feet in order to avoid foot problems.

  • Look for any signs of pressure sores or friction every day.
  • Use shoes that are made specifically for the type of exercises you are going to do.
  • Wear cotton absorbent socks when training.
  • Discuss additional details on foot care with your doctor.

Keeping to all of these recommendations and following all of these precautions will considerably decrease the risk of experiencing any health problems related to special diabetes exercising. Nevertheless, for you as a person with diabetes, a golden rule is to always consult with your doctor before starting to follow a certain exercise plan.

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