Exercise for Diabetics

Regular exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weight as well as giving you a host of other benefits. The government currently recommends that you take 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week to help keep your body healthy. There are many benefits to taking aerobic exercise for type 1 and 2 diabetics. Exercise decreases body fat, cholesterol, helps to lower blood pressure and can also increase your sensitivity to insulin. Whereas aerobic exercise can help, anaerobic exercise such as weightlifting can sometime exacerbate problems, as it causes large increases in blood pressure that can lead to further problems. These can include the rupture of blood vessels that have been weakened by already elevated blood pressure.

As with any type of activity, your body needs large amounts of energy during exercise. This energy comes from the breakdown of glucose that is circulating in your blood, or that has been stored in the liver or muscle. During exercise, the levels of glucose in your blood can fluctuate wildly, so it is important that if you suffer from diabetes you take some precautions and consult your local GP before starting an exercise program. Some recommendations are:

  • Make sure you check your blood sugar levels throughout exercise
  • Only exercise if your blood glucose is within a range of 100 to 300 mg/dL
  • Inject your insulin into a muscle you will not be exercising
  • Avoid any drugs that can cause hypoglycaemia
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Make sure you have eaten enough carbohydrates prior to and during exercise
  • Keep some sugary snacks with you for if you feel faint
  • Ensure you have adequate clothing and footwear

These are some general guidelines that can help you exercise safely. Your dietician and specialist doctors will be able to give you further information before you start exercising.

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