HOW EXERCISE CAN HELP CONTROL DIABETES

How Exercise Can Help Control Diabetes

Diabetes is a common condition that affects millions of people in the UK. It is a health problem characterised by high blood sugar levels. Hence, one effective way to manage this condition is through regular physical activity or exercise. In this article, you will learn:

– How exercise can help manage diabetes.

– Knowledge on the relationship between diabetes, blood sugar levels and exercise, the types of exercises that are beneficial for diabetes management, and practical ways to incorporate exercise into daily routines.

The benefits to understanding the topics in this article include better management of diabetes, improved overall health, and a higher quality of life. 

After reading, you can take action by starting an exercise routine, making lifestyle changes, and consulting with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

Table of Contents

The Link Between Physical Activity and Blood Sugar Levels

Regular physical activity is crucial in managing diabetes. Exercise can lower blood sugar levels and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. 

The charity Diabetes UK recommends doing different forms of exercise, for example, cardio and strength training, as each form has its own purpose and benefits for physical health.

Physical activity helps muscles use sugar for energy, decreasing the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, thus lowering blood glucose levels. 

Regular exercise can also improve insulin sensitivity, which means your body uses insulin more effectively. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes, where insulin resistance is a common issue.

However, exercise can sometimes lead to low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), particularly forpeople who take insulin or certain diabetes medications. 

Therefore, ensure that you monitor your blood glucose levels before, during and after exercise to prevent your blood sugar levels dropping too low. It’s also advisable to have a carbohydrate based snack on hand in case you become hypoglycemic.

Regular physical activity also has several other health benefits, which are all particularly important for people with diabetes. It can help with weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve mental health, and boost overall fitness.

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Types of Exercises Beneficial for Diabetes Management

There are several types of exercises that are beneficial for individuals with diabetes. The ideal exercise program for diabetes management should include a combination of aerobic exercises, resistance training and flexibility exercises.

Aerobic exercises, such as walking, cycling, swimming, and jogging, can help control blood sugar levels. 

These exercises improve cardiovascular health and can aid weight loss.Aerobic exercise is also beneficial for heart health, as it can lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

Resistance exercises, such as weight lifting and bodyweight exercises, can increase muscle mass. More muscle mass helps the body use insulin better and improve blood glucose control. Starting slow and gradually increasing the intensity is optimal to avoid injuries.

Flexibility exercises, such as yoga and stretching, can help improve balance, reduce stress and increase body strength. Diabetes UK recommends implementing stretching routines into your regular daily activities at home, for example, stretching for 10 minutes after waking up.

Finally, remember that any form of exercise is better than none. Activities such as gardening or housework can also offer health benefits, so find activities you enjoy and make them part of your daily routine.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Exercise into Daily Routine

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can be challenging, but it is achievable, especially if you implement these practical tips. First, set achievable goals. Start with short periods of physical activity and gradually increase the duration and intensity as your fitness improves.

Create a schedule and stick to it, as consistency is key to reaping the benefits of exercise. Find a time that works for you, this could be early morning, during lunch breaks or in the evening after finishing work. 

A consistent exercise routine can help manage blood glucose levels and promote overall health.

Incorporate a variety of aerobic, resistance, and flexibility exercises into your routine. This approach not only keeps things interesting but also ensures you’re working different muscle groups and reaping the full benefits of exercise.

Finally talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program. They can provide advice tailored to your individual needs, as well as guidance on how to monitor blood glucose levels during exercise and manage any potential risks.

Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of How Exercise Can Help Control Diabetes

In this section, we will delve into some of the key advantages and disadvantages associated with exercise as a means of managing diabetes. 

The Link Between Physical Activity and Blood Sugar Levels

Pros of Exercise for Helping to Control Diabetes

1) Improved Blood Sugar Control

– Regular physical activity can help to lower blood glucose levels by allowing your muscles to use up glucose for energy and reducing the amount in your bloodstream. It can also improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. This is particularly beneficial for managing type 2 diabetes.

2) Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

– Regular exercise can help to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease, which is a common complication of diabetes.

– Aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, and swimming are particularly beneficial for cardiovascular health.

3) Enhanced Weight Management

– Regular physical activity, combined with a balanced diet, can support weight loss. Managing your weight is a crucial aspect of diabetes care, as losing weight can improve insulin sensitivity and further help to control blood sugar levels. 

"Regular physical activity is crucial in managing diabetes. Exercise can lower blood sugar levels and improve the body's sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep blood sugar levels within a normal range."

4) Boosted Mental Wellbeing

– Exercise can improve mental wellbeing as well as physical health. Regular physical activity can help to reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can negatively impact blood sugar levels.

– Incorporating exercise into your routine can also boost your mood and overall quality of life.

5) Increased Energy Levels

– Regular exercise can help to boost your energy levels. This is particularly beneficial for those with diabetes, who may often feel fatigued due to high blood sugar levels.

– Physical activity can also improve sleep quality, further contributing to increased energy levels.

Cons of Exercise for Helping to Control Diabetes

1) Risk of Hypoglycaemia 

– For individuals with diabetes on insulin or certain medications, exercise can sometimes lead to low blood sugar, or hypoglycaemia.

-Ensure that you monitor blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise and have a carbohydrate snack on hand.

2) Potential for Injury

– If not done correctly, some forms of exercise can lead to injury. Learning the correct techniques and starting with low-intensity exercises will help to prevent this. 

– Individuals with diabetes should consult a healthcare professional or a specialist in sports medicine before starting a new exercise regime.

3) Time Commitment

– Exercise requires a time commitment, which can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules. 

– I try to find a routine that suits your lifestyle, and remember that any physical activity is better than none.

4) Initial Increase in Blood Sugar

– If you have diabetes, you may experience a temporary increase in blood sugar levels immediately after exercise. However, your blood sugar levels will usually decrease after a few hours.

– It’s important to monitor blood sugar levels closely when starting a new exercise routine.

5) Need for Regularity

-Committing to a consistent exercise routine can be challenging. However, with effective planning, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can become second nature.

Facilitating Blood Sugar Control Through Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is a form of physical activity that uses large muscle groups and can be maintained for extended periods. Examples include walking, cycling, and swimming. 

For individuals with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, aerobic exercise can be particularly useful in managing blood glucose levels.

When you engage in aerobic exercise, your muscles require more energy to function, and this energy is sourced from glucose in your bloodstream. The more intense the exercise, the more glucose is utilised, resulting in lower blood sugar levels.

Aerobic exercise can also be effective for increasing insulin sensitivity. Improved insulin sensitivity means your body’s cells are better able to use available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

However, it’s important to take precautions when engaging in aerobic exercise, and to monitor your blood sugar levels closely to ensure your blood sugar levels do not drop too low.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Exercise into Daily Routine

Resistance Exercise and Its Role in Diabetes Management

Resistance exercise, also known as strength training, involves activities that make your muscles work against weight or force (resistance). Engaging in resistance exercise can help build muscle mass. 

As muscles are the main source for glucose utilisation in the body, having more muscle mass means more glucose can be used up, which can help lower blood glucose levels. This can support both type 1 and type 2 diabetes management.

Additionally, resistance exercise can have a positive impact on insulin resistance, a critical issue for those with type 2 diabetes. By improving insulin sensitivity, resistance exercise can enhance the body’s ability to effectively manage blood sugar levels.

Ensure that you approach resistance training with care, by starting slow, focusing on proper form, and gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts to avoid injury.

Considering Exercise in the Management of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects women during pregnancy. Regular physical activity plays a crucial role in managing gestational diabetes and reducing potential risks to both the mother and baby.

Exercise can help lower blood glucose levels by moving glucose into the cells where it is used for energy. This can be particularly effective in managing gestational diabetes, where hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to insulin resistance.

Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming, can be beneficial for women with gestational diabetes. Consult with a healthcare provider before beginning or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy.

Regular exercise can also support healthier weight gain during pregnancy, reducing the risk of complications associated with gestational diabetes. 

Maintaining a balanced diet, monitoring blood glucose levels, and following healthcare professionals’ advice are key to managing gestational diabetes effectively.

Facilitating Blood Sugar Control Through Aerobic Exercise

A Case Study on the Role of Exercise in Diabetes Management

Here’s a case study that brings to life how exercise can help control diabetes. It’s a practical example that many people will relate to, providing insight into how an individual can manage their condition through physical activity.

John, a 45-year-old man from Manchester, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He was advised by his healthcare team to make lifestyle modifications, including regular exercise, to manage his condition better. 

John was initially apprehensive, having led a sedentary lifestyle for a long period of time. 

John started with moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, like brisk walking and cycling. He began noticing a significant improvement in his blood sugar levels. 

The aerobic exercise helped his muscles use up the glucose in his bloodstream for energy, thus lowering his blood glucose level. He also found it easier to manage his blood sugar levels on the days he did exercise. 

Next, John incorporated resistance exercises into his regime twice a week. He found that this improved his insulin sensitivity, enhancing his body’s ability to manage blood glucose levels effectively.

John also paid attention to his carbohydrate intake, particularly around his exercise sessions. He learned to monitor his blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise to avoid becoming hypoglycemic. 

He also kept a carbohydrate snack on hand during his workouts, just in case his blood sugar levels dropped too low.

As John continued his exercise regime, he started to enjoy the additional benefits. He noticed his energy levels had increased, and he was losing weight. He also found that he was sleeping better, further aiding his energy levels and, thereby, his fitness goals.

John’s case highlights the value of incorporating both aerobic and resistance exercises into your diabetes management routine. His experience shows that with the correct guidance, monitoring and consistency, exercise can be an effective tool in managing diabetes.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

To summarise, this article has highlighted the significant role exercise can play in managing diabetes. Here are the key aspects to remember:

– Regular physical activity can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, both critical aspects in managing diabetes.

– Both aerobic and resistance exercises offer benefits for individuals with diabetes. Aerobic exercises help to control blood sugar levels. Resistance exercises help to increase muscle mass and improve insulin sensitivity.

– For those with gestational diabetes, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can be beneficial.

– It’s important to monitor blood sugar levels before, during, and after exercise, particularly for those on insulin or certain medications. Keeping a carbohydrate snack on hand during workouts can help to manage a potential drop in blood sugar levels while exercising.

– Incorporating exercise into your daily routine requires commitment and consistency. Setting achievable goals, creating a schedule and varying your exercises can help to maintain consistency with physical activity. 

In summary, exercise is a powerful tool in the management of diabetes and should be a key component of your overall management plan. It is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting or modifying an exercise regime. 

They can provide advice tailored to your individual health status and needs. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine offers numerous benefits for improving blood sugar control and enhancing overall health and wellbeing.

Resistance Exercise and Its Role in Diabetes Management

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