World diabetes day is celebrated each year on November 14.
There is a strong link between exercise and sugar levels in diabetes. Basic lifestyle changes and regular exercise can help you manage diabetes.
Ranging from sugar control to weight management, staying active offers great benefits. Many studies aimed at finding an answer to this have concluded the positive impact of exercise on your sugar levels.
Exercise in diabetes type 1 is as important as in type 2, says Dr Walia Murshida Huda (Senior Medical Officer, Healthians, MBBS. MBA(H.C.A),FICM)
- Better sugar control
Sugar control is the main focus of diabetes management and exercise can help you with that. You must never miss it. Exercise in diabetes type 1 must be planned in accordance with insulin doses to avoid excessively low sugar levels. Regardless of the type of diabetes, regular exercises and being physically active can help to control blood sugar levels. It helps to reduce insulin resistance and improves effective use of glucose.
- Elevated mood
Stress is by and large known to trigger a rise in blood sugar levels. If you stay active and keep yourself busy with exercises or some physical activity, you are sure to enjoy an improved mood. Exercise works as the best stress management tool, also because it helps to release the feel good hormones, which you need to most to keep mood swings away.
- Better overall health
With exercises, be it strengthening, flexibility or aerobics, you can surely improve your overall health. Exercises help to improve muscle and bone strength, giving you more toned muscles. It helps to improve your energy levels and also boost your immunity, thus protecting you from illnesses. Diabetes can make you susceptible to other illnesses, but exercises can keep you strong.
- Improved nerve health
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage, which is one of the major risks of diabetes. Strong muscles and controlled blood sugar help to prevent nerve complications of diabetes. It can also help maintain better sensations and improve nerve signalling.
- Better balance and coordination
If you have diabetes, an increased risk of nerve and muscle damage, can affect your balance. Falls or other injuries can cause problems in wound healing, which can sometimes worsen the case. But with regular exercise, you can improve your joint stability, balance and co-ordination.
- Better sleep
Sleep plays an important role in regulating your hormones. Inadequate sleep not only affects your hunger and food intake, but also has an impact on your blood sugar levels. Diabetics often complain about sleep problems. However, exercises can help you sleep better and ensure a regulated routine. With proper sleep you can be more alert and perform better during the day, which again helps to maintain healthy blood sugar.
- Better blood circulation
Complications of diabetes can affect major organs like kidneys, eyes, nerves, skin and feet. If you exercise regularly, your heart functioning and blood circulation improves to a great extent. This helps to maintain better health, improve healing and prevent skin, nerve and other damage.
- Reduced risk of lifestyle disorders
Having diabetes increases the risk of other metabolic disorders, thyroid problems and autoimmune disorders too. Exercises help in better weight control and improved circulation, which reduces the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart diseases, stroke and other diseases.
- Weight management
Being overweight makes you prone to other lifestyle disorders. But with regular exercises you can keep a check on your weight. Losing few pounds too can have great impact on your blood sugar levels and reduce your overall health risks.
Type 2 diabetes and exercise precautions
According to Dr Walia, people with type 2 diabetes need to take necessary exercise precautions and plan a healthy and safe schedule for themselves.
- Adjust your exercises to avoid excessive drop in blood sugar. If you take medicines, make sure you have light snacks before or after exercising.
- Choose activities that are comfortable for your age and health condition.
- Drink water at regular intervals, during and after exercises.
- Wear comfortable clothing and proper footwear, preferably sports shoes, to avoid foot injuries.
- Avoid strenuous exercises, go slow and know your limits. If walking is all you can do, go ahead with it.
- You may have to check your diabetes often, to find out if the exercise schedule is safe. Check your blood sugar levels and go for advanced diabetes tests, if needed.
Diabetes is a complicated health condition with various facets. However, simple lifestyle measures, diet control and regular exercises can help you deal with it effectively. Plan your exercise schedule and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.