Treatment for Diabetes with Physical Activity

Treatment for diabetes with a modified meal plan and exercise is something strongly recommended before the use of medications. There is so much to talk about exercise that we will cover this in this whole section. The diabetes educator will talk to you about exercise in more detail.

How can treatment for diabetes with exercise help? In order to live fully and healthfully, being active certainly will play an important part. There are different types of exercise and you can choose the best one for you. Research has shown that being physically active can:

  • reduce the bad cholesterol and raise the good one
  • lower both blood pressure and blood sugar level
  • lessen the risk for stroke and heart disease
  • improve the body's capacity to make use of insulin
  • lessen stress
  • maintain the strength of both bones and heart
  • provide vigor and vitality
  • help keep joints flexible
  • lessen the body fat
  • help lose weight

Physical activity not only helps with the treatment for diabetes but also it prevents Type 2 diabetes as discussed in another section but here let's find out what kinds of exercise can help. There are four kinds that we will discuss in detail, but for now, let's see what they are:

  • Stretching
  • Being more active daily
  • Doing strength training
  • Participating in aerobic exercise

Why is stretching a part of the treatment for diabetes? Because it raises flexibility, lessens stress and aids in the prevention of muscle soreness that may be caused by other forms of exercise. As to the kind of stretching to do, a member of the health care team will be of help.

Being more physically active every day should be easy. Such chores as walking around while watching TV or while on the phone, gardening, cleaning the house, playing with the kids, washing the car and taking the dog for a walk will all contribute to a more active life. That is why this is considered as part of the treatment for diabetes.

As for strength training, doing exercises with elastic bands, hand weights and weight machines all help build muscles. More muscles than fat will use up more calories even before exercises thus improving balance and coordination and the bone's health. No wonder it is part of the treatment for diabetes.

Aerobic exercise employs large muscles and makes the heart beat faster. The recommendation to make this part of the treatment for diabetes is 30 minutes a day five or more days a week. But go easy at first. Check with your doctor first and then start slowly and build up from there.

Some aerobic exercises you can try are walking briskly, cross-country skiing, hiking, playing tennis, basketball, volleyball or other sports, dancing, climbing stairs, swimming, riding bicycles either outdoors or indoors, swimming and taking aerobic classes. Choose which one you enjoy the most is what treatment for diabetes guidelines will say.

Your health care team will explain the best time to exercise because you have to consider your daily schedule of meals and medications. Don't exercise when your blood sugar level is above 300. Wait till it gets lower. The same thing is true when your fasting blood sugar is above 250 and there are ketones in the urine.

There are also exercises that you should avoid if you have eye problems as this can be made worse as when you lift heavy weights. The same is true when the there's nerve damage in your feet because they will be numb. The training for diabetes suggestion in this case will be to try swimming instead.

Physical activity can make the blood glucose low during exercise or after exercise or even a day after. When this hypoglycemia occurs and your blood sugar is 70 or lower be ready to have one of the following and have another serving if after 15 minutes, the blood glucose is still too low:

  • 5 or 6 pieces of hard candy
  • 2 or 3 glucose pills
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey or sugar
  • 1/2 cup of any fruit juice
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of regular soft drink

There are things to do to be ready for hypoglycemia. Before exercise, make sure you did not skip a meal. Check blood sugar and if it's below 100, have a snack. Your health care team will talk to you if you take insulin because a change in the dosage may be necessary,

During exercise, make sure you have your medical bracelet on. Bring food or glucose tablets so you can treat hypoglycemia right away. And if you're exercising for more than an hour, check your blood glucose at intervals. You may need a snack before you finish your exercise. After exercise, find out how it affected your blood sugar level.

Let's recap. Make sure you check with your doctor as medications and complications will dictate what type of exercise to do. Find a buddy and keep track of the physical activity. Reward yourself for a job well done with a movie or flowers. If one activity does not work, don't let this stop you. Find something else you enjoy and maybe another time devoted to exercise will be more convenient.

And here's a video about the ancient Chinese art of Tai-Chi. It has long been practised for its general therapeutic value. But a new study suggests it can have specific benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. I do Tai-Chi as soon as I wake up every day because if I don't do it, I will be in pain all day long.

If you want more information about diabetes, please visit: Blogging for Diabetes and You

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