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Why is Exercise Important for Diabetics?

Updated on November 27, 2015
It's important for individuals with type 2 diabetes, and those at risk for developing it, to exercise regularly.
It's important for individuals with type 2 diabetes, and those at risk for developing it, to exercise regularly. | Source

Exercising with Diabetes

Exercise is an integral component of treatment in type 2 diabetes. It is a factor in weight control, and has been found to lower BG levels to the point of reducing or eliminating the need for oral hypoglycemic agents or insulin for persons with type 2 diabetes. Everyone, whether diabetic or not, benefits from physical activity which helps to maintain good cardiovascular health.

Always Check with a Health Provider Before Beginning New Exercises

Because of potential nerve damage from long-standing diabetes, medical input should always be sought before exercise is undertaken. For example, the heart rate response to exercise may be impaired. This could result in oxygen deprivation if the activity is too strenuous. Children and adults who are on insulin may need to lower their insulin dose while increasing their carbohydrate intake if their physical activity level is increased over usual amounts.

Benefits of Exercising while Diabetic

  • Helps to lower excess body weight, which increases how well insulin works.
  • Improves muscle strength.
  • Increases bone density and strength.
  • Exercise helps to lower blood pressure.
  • It can also help improve blood circulation, which can reduce the risk for heart problems.
  • Also improves the strength of the heart,and helps to lower bad cholesterol.

Challenges when Exercising for Diabetics

Exercise by a person with type 2 diabetes may naturally be more challenging, because of differences in the body composition. Low muscle glycogen levels have been noted in type 2 diabetes. Without adequate glycogen stores, fatigue induced by exercise can become more pronounced. For this reason, people with type 2 diabetes should begin with slow exercises that gradually increase as the patients endurance increases.

Monitoring their blood glucose levels is an important daily task that those with diabetes have to deal with.
Monitoring their blood glucose levels is an important daily task that those with diabetes have to deal with. | Source

Dangers of Hyperglycemia

In type 1 diabetes with a ketotic or hyperglycemic state exercise can actually increase glucose levels further. This is primarily because insulin is a prerequisite for glucose usage in exercising muscles. Hyperglycemia is generally indicative of insufficient insulin. The general rule of thumb is to eat at least 15 g of carbohydrates for every 1 hour of exercise as based on weight and insulin. is acting at peak levels. These guidelines help prevent the development of severe hypoglecemi, which is caused by excess insulin to the amount.

SMBG

The use of SMBG (or Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose) can serve as a valuable tool in determining the best way to adjust insulin before, during, and after exercise. Instead amounts of carbohydrates may need to be consumed for up to 24 hours after strenuous exercise, while the body replenishes its glycogen stores and allows for stable blood glucose. Testing the 3 am blood glucose level is warranted after increased exercise to ensure there is no post-exercise hypoglycemia This time of night is when the body cells tend to be the most sensitive to insulin.

Total Body Exercise for Diabetics

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    • hrymel profile imageAUTHOR

      Haley 

      5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Thanks, I hope the information helps to keep your mother motivated with her exercise routine.

    • profile image

      lesliebyars 

      5 years ago

      My mother has diabetes. I'll pass this hub along to her. Very well written.

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