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Learning About How to Keep Diabetes in Check Through Fitness

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Learning About How to Keep Diabetes in Check Through Fitness

Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body processes sugar. When not kept in check, it can have dangerous and even deadly consequences. Type-1 Diabetes is a genetic disease in which the pancreas does not function as it should and therefore the body is not able to appropriately process sugar. Type-2 Diabetics have a functioning pancreas but due to other complications within the body, the body is unable to absorb insulin and use it effectively.

Type-1 Diabetes cannot be prevented, but the symptoms can be kept in check with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Type-2 Diabetes, on the other hand, can often be prevented, and diet and exercise are keys in preventing and treating Type 2 Diabetes.

What is the benefit of exercise for diabetics?

Debi Wilkins, Professional Fitness Trainer at Cooper Fitness Center, Dallas and Type-1 Diabetic outlines five benefits of exercise for diabetics:

  1. Exercise helps control the amount of sugar in the blood. As you exercise, blood is pushed through the body and the body uses sugar in the blood for energy.
  2. Exercise increases the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers LDL (bad cholesterol).
  3. Exercise burns calories and fat. Decreased body fat results in improved insulin sensitivity. The lower your body fat, the more efficiently and effectively the body uses insulin.
  4. Exercise decreases blood pressure and improves circulation, which helps reduce risk of heart disease. (Diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease.)
  5. Exercise decreases stress and anxiety, both of which can raise blood sugar.

The body breaks down and utilizes glucose in phases, says Cristie Ballow, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian. During the first five to 10 minutes of exercise, glucose is utilized from the blood. Once you hit the 10 to 20-minute mark, the body utilizes glucose from the muscle. The next phase (20 to 40 minutes) it uses glucose from the muscle and after the 40-minute mark, it starts breaking down body fat, which is key in promoting weight loss. Ultimately, Type-2 Diabetics want to lose weight so the body will use insulin more effectively.

What type of exercise is best and how much exercise do you need?

The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise a week, spread out over at least three days with no more than one day of rest between workouts.

Resistance exercise (strength training) is just as important as aerobic exercise in managing diabetes, says Ballow.

10 Exercise Tips from Cooper Fitness Trainer Debi Wilkins

  1. Consult with your doctor before you begin an exercise routine. Exercise causes the blood sugar to drop and some people (especially Type-1 Diabetics) may experience this drop more suddenly.
  2. Always check your blood sugar before and after you exercise. Don’t start exercising if your blood sugar is low. Do not exercise when your diabetes medicine is at its peak effect.
  3. Always carry some sort of sugar with you when you exercise (hard candy, glucose tablet, etc.).
  4. Always wear your medical identification tag.
  5. Wear good shoes. Nerve problems are common for diabetics, especially in the feet. Get a good pair of shoes to protect your feet.
  6. If you take insulin shots, give yourself a shot in an area of the body that you won’t be exercising. For example, if you’re planning to go for a run, take your shot in your belly. When the muscles start contracting with exercise, it will push insulin through your body very quickly, which may cause a rapid drop in blood sugar.
  7. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and decrease stress on your body.
  8. Exercise with someone who knows your health situation. If you work with a trainer, let your trainer know you have diabetes.
  9. To reduce the risk of hyperglycemia, follow a regular routine of exercise, eating and taking your medications at the same time each day (if possible).
  10. Listen to your body.

Bottom line: Don’t let fear of complications from your diabetes keep you from exercising or being physically active. In fact, exercise may be the best thing to help keep your diabetes in check.

To learn more about how Cooper Clinic certified diabetes eductaors can help you successfully manager your diabetes call 972.560.2655 or request an appointment here.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.