I have Diabetes. Why should I exercise?
Written by: Monica
Published on: August 25, 2020

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as Diabetes, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy. With Diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it does make.

There are a few different types of Diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas, where insulin is made. It’s unclear what causes this attack. About 10 percent of people with Diabetes have this type.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin, and sugar builds up in your blood.
  • Prediabetes occurs when your blood sugar is higher than usual, but it’s not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
  • Gestational Diabetes is high blood sugar during pregnancy. Insulin-blocking hormones produced by the placenta cause this type of Diabetes

Is Diabetes Serious?

Diabetes can be managed well, but the potential complications are the same for type 1 and type 2 diabetes, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety, and blindness.

We know diabetes:

  • Is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults
  • Is a leading cause of kidney failure and dialysis
  • Increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke by up to four times
  • Is a major cause of limb amputations
  • Affects mental health as well as physical health. Depression, anxiety and distress occur in more than 30% of all people with diabetes.

Early diagnosis, optimal treatment and practical ongoing support and management reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.

Diabetes symptoms can be so mild that they’re hard to spot at first. Both genes and environmental factors play a role in triggering diabetes. Your family, environment, and preexisting medical conditions can all affect your odds of developing diabetes.

Diabetes, Exercise, and its Benefits

People with diabetes should aim to complete 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. Health professionals also recommend a twice-weekly resistance training session. This amount will protect against heart disease by reducing high blood pressure, aiding in weight loss, and lowering cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C levels, which indicates a three-month average of blood sugar levels.

Here are six great workouts you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. Be sure to check with your healthcare team before beginning any exercise regimen, and go slowly at first. Over time, you can increase the length and intensity of your routine.

Brisk Walking Is a Mild Activity With Major Benefits

If you don’t have an exercise routine in place, start with walking. Walking is easy for people to do. All you need is a good pair of shoes and somewhere to go. Walking is probably one of the most prescribed activities for people with type 2 diabetes.

Brisk walking is done at a pace that raises the heart rate is considered a moderate-intensity exercise. Walking at a quicker clip 30 minutes per day five days per week will help you reach the recommended goal of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.

Tai Chi Reduces Stress and Improves Balance

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition where participants flow through a series of movements performed in a slow and relaxed manner along with deep breathing. Tai chi is ideal for people with diabetes because it provides fitness and stress reduction in one.

Tai chi improves balance and may reduce nerve damage or neuropathy, which is a common complication among people with diabetes whose blood sugar isn’t well managed. Working on your balance daily is a critical component of staying on your feet as you age and living well and independently throughout your lifetime. If you don’t do tai chi, incorporate some other balance exercises into your weekly routine to reduce your risk of falling.

Weight Training Is Necessary for Maintaining Muscle

Weight training is not just for people with diabetes but for everyone. This kind of exercise builds muscle mass, essential for those with type 2 diabetes. If you lose muscle mass, you have a lot harder time maintaining your blood sugar.

Plan for resistance exercise or weight training at least twice a week as part of your diabetes management plan. Regardless of your experience, you can safely add resistance exercise into your routine. This routine might include workout done with free weights, machines, or bands using a resistance that feels challenging; focus on doing two to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.

Yoga Reduces Stress for Blood Sugar Control

Like tai chi, research shows that if you have diabetes, yoga can help reduce stress and manage the condition. When stress levels go higher, so do your blood sugar levels.

One of the advantages of yoga as an exercise is that you can do it as often as you like. “The more, the better.” A study published in March 2017 in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health concluded that exercise helps lessen depressive symptoms in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Swimming Is a Low-Impact Exercise That Feels Good

Swimming is another aerobic exercise and an ideal one for people with diabetes because it doesn’t put pressure on your joints. Being buoyed by the water is less stressful on your body compared to walking or jogging.

Type 2 diabetes can lead to foot complications, including neuropathy. Because neuropathy can lead to loss of feeling in the foot, you can purchase water shoes to protect your feet in the pool.

Stationary Bicycling Is a Convenient Way to Burn Calories

Bicycling is also a form of aerobic exercise, one that makes your heart stronger and your lungs function better, and is a calorie burner to boot. Just riding a few times per week as a casual mode of transportation was found to reduce the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and triglyceride levels.

To cycle, you don’t even need to leave your house: A stationary bike can be helpful because you can do it inside, no matter the weather.


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