Exercise and Diabetes

exercise and diabetesOne of the essential components of managing diabetes—particularly type 2 diabetes—is exercise. Exercise impacts everything about any individual’s health; it decreases insulin resistance in the body, it burns muscle glycogen stores, increases good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol, and often leads to weight loss. However, if you are a diabetic and you’re concerned about starting an exercise program, it can seem daunting to know what exercises you should be doing, whether you should be exercising at all, and what benefits you stand to receive from incorporating exercise. While you will still need to purchase diabetic accessories from the diabetic supply company of your choice, even if you do exercise, even a little bit of physical activity can make it easier for you to manage your disease.

As with everything concerning managing your condition, you should speak to your medical provider and seek guidance from him or her about the specific details of your case; likely your provider will be happy to provide you with information about exercising that will pertain to you personally. Study after study has demonstrated that moderate amounts of exercise can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the group of individuals who are considered “prediabetic.” As mentioned before, if you are already diagnosed with diabetes, exercise can lower blood sugar levels (including the important A1C, an indicator of overall blood sugar control over a period of months), and can lower blood pressure.

Researchers previously thought that weight and resistance training exercises were harmful for diabetics—but more recent studies have demonstrated that a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training can bring the most benefit for the majority of diabetics who do not have serious complications from the disease. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise five days per week can make a tremendous difference for patients with diabetes, and those who incorporated both weight training and aerobic exercise into their programs saw an A1C reduction of almost 1%, compared to those individuals who did just aerobic or just weight training exercises (those in the study doing one or the other managed to see a reduction on average of about .51% for aerobics and .38% for weight training). The next time you visit the diabetic supply company of your choice for your diabetic accessories, consider picking up some books about exercise for diabetes.

Of course, not all forms of exercise are recommended for those with the disease; particularly those who are experiencing complications such as neuropathy, kidney disease, and very high blood pressure. While exercise is beneficial for all diabetic populations, if you are suffering from serious diabetes-related complications, it is a good idea to work with your doctor to find a physiologist who can assess what forms of exercise will work best for you. For example, those with the condition called Charcot Foot can benefit from hand-bikes and other non-weight-bearing exercises. Those with peripheral neuropathy should incorporate balance exercises and avoid walking or jogging in favor of stationary bike and swimming. As always, your medical provider is an excellent resource, and can pair you with a mentor who can help you to find the exercise program that is best for you. It is also important to make sure to monitor your blood glucose levels; exercise can, on occasion, make blood sugar for diabetics lower than optimal. The next time you’re shopping at the diabetic supply company you prefer for the diabetic accessories that you include in your lifestyle, look and see what you can find for guides as well as equipment and other resources for exercise—many companies have begun carrying them in response to increased research showing what a benefit exercise is.

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