Exercise forms an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Health experts recommend exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight, ward off diseases and boost longevity, among other things. For people with Type 2 diabetes, working out on the regular becomes even more urgent. Studies show that exercising regularly helps lower blood sugar, avoid diabetes complications and more.
Why is exercise important for diabetics?
A healthy body uses a type of sugar called glucose as a source of energy. In order for your cells to use glucose, they need a hormone produced by your pancreas called insulin. Insulin allows your cells to absorb glucose and helps break down fats and protein. When your blood sugar levels get too high, your pancreas produces compensatory levels of insulin to bring your blood sugar levels to normal.
But in people with Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or cells respond poorly to the hormone (insulin resistance).
Exercise can help address these problems because it puts your muscles to work. When you exercise, your skeletal muscle cells don’t need insulin to be able to use glucose. Therefore, your muscles will still be able to absorb this sugar despite the fact that you are insulin resistant. When you’re at rest, your muscle cells will have to go back to relying on insulin to facilitate glucose absorption.
Many studies have also shown that exercise is anti-diabetic. In a study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, researchers found that high-intensity interval training in the form of cycling reduces high blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.
Another study, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, links structured exercise training consisting of aerobic exercise, resistance training or both to better blood sugar control in diabetics. This benefit is more pronounced when exercising for more than two and a half hours than exercising for less than that amount of time.
Aerobic exercise (“cardio”) involves repeated and continuous movement of large muscle groups. It includes activities like walking, cycling, jogging and swimming. Meanwhile, resistance training is designed to improve your strength and includes exercises with free weights, weight machines and elastic resistance bands. (Related: Exercise can delay the development of Type 1 diabetes.)
Below are more reasons to exercise regularly:
- To avoid complications. Exercise helps reduce the risk of diabetes complications like heart disease.
- To maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Experts state that exercising regularly helps lower cholesterol and boost levels of good cholesterol.
- To lose weight and keep it off. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for diabetes.
- To lower blood pressure. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure than non-diabetics. Luckily, exercise is as good as conventional medications in reducing blood pressure.
- For stronger bones. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, dancing and climbing the stairs force you to work against gravity, which helps strengthen your bones.
- To improve your mood. Exercise promotes the production of chemicals in your brain that make you more relaxed and less stressed.
- To sleep better. Moderate-to-vigorous exercises can increase your sleep quality by reducing the time it takes for you to fall asleep.
How to start exercising
Check out the following tips when exercising for the first time:
- Stay hydrated. You’ll need to drink water regularly during exercise to prevent dehydration.
- Keep a glucose-heavy snack ready. Many diabetic patients risk bringing their blood sugar levels way down when exercising because their muscles are absorbing glucose.
- Check your blood sugar. Use a glucose meter to check your blood sugar before and after exercise.
- Start slow. Beginners are advised to start off slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of their workouts.
- Consult your GP. Get yourself checked for heart conditions or anything that may affect your health once you start working out.
Exercising regularly is important for diabetics because it helps lower blood sugar levels and greatly helps to prevent the complications of diabetes. Move those muscles to keep yourself healthy and eat a balanced diet for better results.
Read more tips on how to manage your blood sugar at BloodSugar.news.
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