Exercise is important for everybody, but it has extra benefits for diabetics. We know that exercise is beneficial for weight control, lowering blood pressure, lowering harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raising healthy HDL cholesterol AND strengthening muscles and bones. For our mental health, it helps to reduce anxiety and stress, improve the quality of your sleep, plus improve your energy levels which leads to improved overall wellbeing.
But there are FURTHER benefits for people with diabetes. For this population, exercise lowers blood glucose levels and boosts your body’s sensitivity to insulin, countering insulin resistance. Exercise can even help reduce your risk of diabetes complications.
So what kind of exercise should you do, you ask? How long should you exercise and when is the best time for a diabetic to work out? I have answers to all of these questions! Read on!
Walking is the most simple way to get your blood flowing and receive the benefits of exercise. Jogging, cycling, and tennis are great too, especially with our current state of social distancing. But, if you are confined to the indoors due to ‘sheltering-in-place’ or for any other reason, try one or all of these videos I created!
Video 1 is a 22-minute workout that consists of simple marching and stepping movements, plus lifting light weights (or food cans) and working on your lower body strength with squats and calf raises.
Video 2 is a 13-minute workout done sitting in a stable chair and standing exercises while holding on to your chair.
Video 3 is a short stretch for your back that you may combine with either of these workouts or even do in bed upon waking or before you go to sleep.
A good guideline for exercise duration is 150-300 minutes per week. Broken down, 20-30 minutes a day is a great place to start. Of course, you may take a day off here and there. 😉 But consistency is key. Once you get in a routine, people often start to crave their daily movement because it makes them feel so good!
For a diabetic, the best time to exercise is 1-3 hours after eating when your blood sugar level is likely to be higher. If you use insulin, test your blood sugar before exercising. If the level before exercise is below 100mg/dL, eating a piece of fruit or having a small snack will boost it and help you avoid hypoglycemia. Testing again 30 minutes later will show whether your blood sugar levels are stable. Experts also caution against exercising if your blood sugar is too high (over 250) because exercise can sometimes raise blood sugar even higher. It is helpful to keep hard candy or glucose tablets with you while exercising in case your blood sugar drops suddenly.
To summarize, exercise is SO beneficial – for everybody! It may seem intimidating to begin a regular routine. I am here to tell you to keep it simple. Carve out time each day to move. Do something that you find enjoyable. Start with walking or my simple and fun videos. Try committing to 14 days and evaluate how you feel when you complete the 14 days. Short term goals help keep you motivated and are attainable. Good Luck and Have Fun!
Source: Harvard Health Publishing
Healthbeat: The importance of exercise when you have diabetes