It is a no-brainer that maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps in one’s wellness. While diet plays a major role in improving the way of living, the benefits of physical activity are also limitless. The advantages of exercising are more for people with diabetes. However, it is equally challenging.
Which is why in this article, we tell you the benefits of physical activities, top exercises for diabetes type 1, and the tips you must follow to exercise safely.
Benefits of Exercise for Diabetes Type 1
Studies have shown the benefits of exercise for diabetic patients are similar to non-diabetics. Since exercise helps in using glucose as a form of fuel, it is an efficient way to control blood sugar levels. Moreover, it is proven that any form of physical activity can act similarly to insulin; improve the uptake of glucose into cells and controlling the elevation of sugar levels after meals.
The following are the benefits of exercising:
Improves insulin sensitivity
Regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity in your body. Exercising helps in better flow of glucose in the bloodstream and improves insulin production. The best way to improve insulin sensitivity is by combining different types of workout routines, such as aerobic and resistance training, or yoga and cardio exercises.
Lowers the risk of heart diseases
Exercise is known to lower heart complications as it strengthens the heart muscles. In fact, it reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Since people with diabetes carry the risk of blocked arteries, regular exercise helps in maintaining good cholesterol and avoids arteriosclerosis.
Improves blood circulation
Regular cardiovascular exercises are good supporters of the circulatory system and improves circulation. Studies have shown the benefits of exercise in improving the capacity of blood vessels to dilate and allowing oxygen intake more easily.
Burns excess fat
Since working out requires more energy and fat is a form of energy present in the body, regular exercising helps in burning the extra fat in the body. This makes the muscle cells to work better and shrink the fat cells.
Decreases stress and improves quality of life
Exercising helps in the production of endorphin- a chemical released that acts as a natural painkiller – helping in reducing stress. There have been studies that show regular exercise can reduce fatigue, enhance concentration, and improve overall cognitive function.
Best Exercises for Diabetic Patients/People with Type-1 Diabetes
It is recommended to either get 150 minutes of physical activity in a week and not skip more than two days of exercise in a row. For children, it is recommended to exercise at least one hour every day. Since working out can be challenging for people with diabetes, we recommend the following exercises that are best for people with diabetes type 1:
Yoga is a traditional form of exercise that incorporates fluid movements in the body. It helps to improve flexibility, balance and strength. Since it reduces stress and improves nerve function, yoga can be a great form of exercise to control your sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Upavishta Bakasana (sitting crane), Bakasana (standing crane) and Dhanurasana are known to stimulate the hormonal secretion and improve the connection between pituitary gland and pancreas.
Swimming is another exercise for diabetes that does not put pressure on your joints yet stretches your body to the core. It improves cardiovascular fitness by constantly helping to improve the circulation of oxygen to the bloodstream. Moreover, swimming requires using both upper and lower body at the same time, thus benefiting people with numbness. Although, this form of exercise for diabetes control carries the risk of hypoglycemic attacks.
Walking is the most common and convenient form of aerobic exercise that can be done by anyone, any time and anywhere. Although this might seem like a basic exercise, it is one of the most effective forms of exercise for diabetes patients. By simply walking for short journeys, or taking stairs whenever possible, or by walking after every meal, one can maintain his/her sugar levels easily.
Weight training is a form of strength training exercises and helps in maintaining strong and healthy bones. Lifting weights even for 30-40 minutes two or three times a week is enough to get maximum benefits of strength training. In fact, you can use your own body weight to start off with push-ups and pull-ups. Your house items such as the bag of flour and canned items can be substitutes for gym weights.
Stretching is one of the most underrated yet effective forms of exercise for diabetic patients. It not only eliminates exercise-related injuries but improves range of motion and flexibility. This helps in better circulation of oxygen to the body and helps in controlling sugar levels, especially after meals. Resistance bands are an efficient form of stretching exercises.
Since every form of exercise is different, it is obvious the sugar levels will also fluctuate differently. It is difficult to know how any form of exercise will react on your blood sugar, and therefore it is important to regularly check your glucose levels with a glucometer before, during, and after exercising.
Safety Tips to Exercise for Diabetic Patients
Here are a few safety tips to abide by when working out:
- Always carry a snack that has the ability to raise your glucose levels quickly. In fact, having a pre-snack before the workout is recommended.
- Do not exercise if your sugar levels are less than 90 mg/dL. In such cases, try to have a carbohydrate-rich snack that can pump your blood sugar levels.
- Do not get dehydrated as this is one of the biggest complications for diabetics. Carry fluids with you and make sure to drink it at regular intervals.
- Keep notes of how different exercises affect your sugar levels. This will help you to put a system in place for insulin intake. Some activities can cause a significant drop in your glucose levels while some will not.
- Monitor your sugar levels during and after exercise to avoid the complications of hypoglycemia.
- Physical exercise is one of the most effective ways to control your diabetes. In fact, it is the best medicine for people with diabetes.
Disclaimer: All information, content, and material of this article is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.