Exercise and Living with type 2 diabetes
The three things that help you manage living with type 2 diabetes are diet, medication and exercise to control blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. Being active also helps avoid diabetes complications like heart disease.
After my own diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, I upped my exercise. It wasn’t as though I was not active, but there were days when I’d feel a bit lazy. When I learned the importance of exercise and the role it plays, I’ve simply determined to walk briskly for an hour every day.
For those not used to an exercise regimen, suddenly getting started can be intimidating. Even though we know what to do, we experience starting problems.
Why the emphasis on exercise for living with type 2 diabetes?
So we all know that exercise is good. But for diabetics, it is mandatory. Since the problem is with blood glucose here’s why. When you exercise, your body requires extra energy from glucose.
The muscles that are active use more glucose than the muscles at rest. When muscles move, they use up blood sugar, lowering blood sugar levels. When you perform activities like running to catch that bus or run up the stairs, your muscles and liver provide the fuel by releasing glucose. For moderate exercise levels for prolonged periods, the muscles use up twenty times the glucose compared to normal activity. This lowers the blood sugar. But if you are into intense exercise, blood sugar rises for a short period after you stop your exercise. Odd eh?
Other benefits are:
- Makes your body use insulin which controls your blood sugar
- You burn calories
- Your bones become stronger
- Your blood pressure stabilizes
- Your LDL or bad cholesterol is lowered
- Your HDL or good cholesterol rises to healthy levels
- Your blood circulation improves
- Your risk for heart disease and stroke is less
- You feel more energetic
- Exercise relieves stress
So the big question is – now that you have to include exercise into your daily routine, how to get started?
Here are some tips:
- Pick something you enjoy doing. Choose an activity that steps up your heart rate as you exercise, so that you build your stamina, and your fitness while you help your blood sugar levels stay stable.
- Interact with your doctor. Discuss what you want to do to ensure it is safe for you to do. Depending on your present condition, you may need to rework your food habits and medication. If you are on insulin you may need to adjust that too.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels. Follow your doctor’s advice about when you need to check.
- Carry a snack with you to eat when your blood sugar gets too low.
- If you are not into exercise, start off with just 10 minutes at a time and slowly increase it so that you are comfortable at 30 minute a day. Make it a habit to devote 30 minutes a day to your health.
- Buddy up with someone to exercise – not only is it motivating but gives you some sense of accountability. My son walks with me every day. Also, you will have company. Don’t forget to carry identification that has your name, phone number and address!
- Look after your feet well. Wear shoes that fit cozily.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Regular physical activity helps control blood sugar and protects you from heart disease and nerve damage. So think of movement as daily medicine. It’s better to get some exercise on most days than to push yourself through a big workout just once or twice a week. If you’re stuck getting started:
- Begin with 5 minutes a day.
- When that’s easy (and a habit), move up to 8 minutes, then 10.
- Increase gradually to 30 minutes or 10 minutes three times a day.
- Did you know housework counts as activity? Yes!
- Be active at home and outside.
I get my formal exercise through walking every day. I don’t need special equipment to do it and it is cheap!
The most important thing is to stay motivated.!
Day 5 of Blogging from the A to Z Challenge
Living with Type 2 Diabetes – Exercise